Saturday, March 19, 2016

Follow the Moon Home: A Tale of One Idea, Twenty Kids and a Hundred Sea Turtles by Philippe Cousteau and Deborah Hopkinson, illustrated by Meilo So

After her family moves to a seaside South Carolina town, Vivienne joins a summer school class that is just beginning to toss around ideas for for a problem to solve for their community action class project.  But when she rides her bike around town trying to find a good project, she just ends of lost.  But, then, Viv always feels disoriented in a new place.

On Saturday, Viv takes her dog Samson to the beach for some digging fun.  While there, she is told to make sure any holes Samson digs get filled in before they leave the beach.  A girl named Clementine from Viv's summer school class explains that the beach is a loggerhead turtle nesting area and the newly hatched turtles need a clear path to the ocean or they won't survive or, like Viv, they will get lost.

As the walk the beach, they find a baby turtle that went the wrong way, became dehydrated and didn't make.  Why did that happen, Viv wonders.  That night, Viv discovers the answer to her question about what happened to the turtle and comes up with a really great class project - since sea turtles follow the strongest light they see first, they can get disoriented and go the wrong way towards the brightly lit houses along the seashore, instead of following the moonlight on the ocean.

Next class, Viv and Clementine present their idea: Lights Out for Loggerheads is a way to save the hatchlings and involve the whole town in the project.  Before long, the class is deep into research about sea turtles, visiting the aquarium, and coming up with what they hope will be a workable plan of action.  But will everyone in town be willing to do what is necessary to save the hatchlings?

This is a wonderful picture book for seeing how kids can become young activists and make a difference.  The plan of action is so clearly laid out, it could be used as a model for kids to use for their own ideas.

Vivienne's story is a little thin at the beginning, really just a way to get to the heart of the book, the actual activism, but that's OK and doesn't distract from the book's message.  There is wonderful back matter including a letter from Philippe Cousteau to young activists (Philippe is the grandson of conservationist/environmentalist Jacques Cousteau), a note to parents and teachers and more information about loggerhead turtles.

The illustrations are soft and gentle, all done with watercolor, colored ink and pencil in hues that will make you feel you are so close to the ocean you can almost smell the sea.  The characters are nicely diverse, and their teacher is young and very hip looking.

This is a book that should be in every elementary/middle school science class.   In fact, a useful teacher's guide can be found HERE.

Follow the Moon Home will be available on April 5, 2016

This book is recommended for readers age 6+
This book was received from the publisher


  1. Thanks for the recommendation and the teacher's guide link. I'm looking forward to sharing the book with my class.

    Hopping by from the Kid Lit Blog Hop.

  2. Thanks, Alex. Sharing with my daughter who teaches 6th science! Thanks for sharing on the Kid Lit Blog Hop.

  3. This sounds a beautifully presented book - and I love the look of the illustrations too. (Via #klbh)


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