For green-minded middle-grade readers, Turtle Tube, the kickoff to Cherry’s Erutuf National Park series, offers the action-packed story of siblings Reese and Dean after they’re mysteriously pulled into an online video about Reese’s favorite animal, the sea turtle. Once transported onto the island of the Erutuf National Park, they meet Emma, their talking sea-turtle guide. Emma soon tasks Reese and Dean the mission of finding a map and concealing it from pirates in order to save the island. The redoubtable pair are committed to helping the animals—including butterflies, bison, and pandas—and the land of natural treasures and magic that they’ve inexplicably discovered.
Turtle Tube follows the siblings’ exploration, experience, and occasional transformations throughout one day on this island, the story exhibiting clear admiration and care for issues of land management and conservation. The dialogue, blended with modest narration, carries the story along at a quick pace. Much of the plot is described through conversation that at times sounds more formal than how children speak. Reese and Dean are straightforward characters and are represented by things they are interested in (turtles, jokes, books). As the children are without supervision, their need to act independently and seek guidance is necessary and serves as an invitation to readers to explore problem-solving skills, though the conflict and its ultimate resolution are cozily minor.
The world of Erutuf, by contrast, is conceptually grand, combining fun, playful, surprising magic and a bounty of animals, though its wonders are not as thoroughly described as they could be. A map at the beginning of the novel surveys much imaginative territory that, while unexplored in this book, will likely figure into the ongoing series. Reese and Dean’s wild adventure at Erutuf National Park is sure to expand the reader’s imagination and, likely, a curiosity about animals and the world.
Takeaway: Siblings take on the adventure of a lifetime when they’re transported to a magical national park with talking animals and pirates.
Great for fans of: Piers Torday’s The Last Wild, Katherine Rundell’s The Explorer.
Production grades Cover: B Design and typography: A Illustrations: A Editing: B Marketing copy: A