Tamara Turtle’s Life So Far, by Regan Macaulay, illustrated by Javier Duarte, is part human interest and part environmental science. Ms. Macaulay tells the story of Tamara, a red ear slider pet store turtle, who is adopted as a pet for a little boy. However, the boy loses interest and doesn’t take care of Tamara. So his mother releases Tamara turtle into the backyard creek. Tamara’s afraid and lonely but soon meets some painted turtles who tell her red ear slider turtles don’t belong in their environment. Tamara leaves and luckily is found by a kind man who takes her to a rescue organization. There she meets other red ear slider turtles. Later Tamara finds a new home with the proper care for her species.
The story shows children the importance of providing the right environment and care for animals they adopt. Kids can relate to the feelings that a lonely and ignored pet would have. There’s just enough pull on our heart strings to want the best for Tamara. Reading this story is a good way to impress upon children what they should know before they commit to keeping an animal. The artist, Javier Duarte, has done a good job of illustrating the imagined events and emotional upset in the life of a pet turtle.
I can totally relate to this story, having tried to keep two pet turtles some thirteen years ago. I felt badly about the poor quality of life our turtles had, even though I did my best to keep their tank clean and give them the food and light they needed. I finally found a better home at a local school’s nature center pond. There our turtles could swim freely and bask in real—not artificial—sunlight.
This story is recommended for teachers’ classroom libraries, school and local libraries, to help children understand responsibility and the environmental impact of keeping pets.
Penelope Anne Cole
Tri-Valley Writers Conference 2017 Prose Award winner; San Mateo County Fair Short Story Award winner, 2017; Award Winning Author of Magical Matthew, Magical Mea,
Magical Mea Goes to School, Magical Max and Magical Mickey, and Magical Max and Magical Mickey’s Big Surprise; In and Out, All ‘Round About – Opposite Friends; What’s for Dinner? and ¿Qué vamos a comer? For Halloween: Ten Little Tricksters and Diez pequeños bromistas; New: My Grandma and Me Coloring Book: and Coming Soon: My Grandma’s Pink House