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
Two siblings try to save a group of sea turtles from pirates on a mysterious, magic island in this chapter book.
As 10-year-old Reese Walters, an aspiring marine biologist, and her younger brother, Dean, watch an internet video of a sea turtle gliding through magnificent waters, they find themselves sucked in and transported to the beach in the work. Although the kids discover they are invisible to other humans, they overhear someone saying they are in “Erutuf National Park” on an island in the Pacific Ocean. They are also shocked to learn that they can communicate with animals, including Emma, a “three-foot-long, three-hundred-pound” sea turtle, who asks them to help save the island from pirates attempting to take it over. Emma explains that the pirates have no concern for the animal inhabitants and even disrupted “baby turtle hatch time and blocked the path to the ocean for a number of the babies.” The kids agree, and later Emma promises to help the siblings find their way back home. Reese and Dean learn that the island is a magical place. For instance, when a sea turtle pal needs rescuing, Reese develops a mermaid tail and the ability to breathe underwater when she jumps in to assist the animal. The kids embark on a mission to locate a special map and hide it from the pirates. Despite the magical surroundings, danger lurks nearby. Reese and Dean eventually find themselves face to face with some threatening pirates. But with guidance from the enchanted residents of the sea turtles’ Sand Dancer Castle, the kids utilize bravery, quick thinking, and teamwork to defeat the foes. This fast-paced read will engage fantasy and adventure fans. Readers will root for the spirited siblings and their daring actions while being inspired to care for nature, the environment, and the myriad creatures in the world. Cherry’s detailed descriptions of the scenic locale have major kid appeal. The siblings enjoy spending time in Sand Dancer Castle, a gigantic, opulent dwelling with themed rooms and magical accents, including communicative creatures that move in the wallpaper. The castle’s highlights include a rainbow playroom and a candy-scented room with real butterflies.
A rousing, plot-driven fantasy with important environmental themes.