My first book for boys and girls, THE BOY WITH A DRUM, was published in the spring of 1969. Later that year my second title arrived in book stores, LITTLE TURTLE’S BIG ADVENTURE. I’ve told you about both books before but today I want to mention LITTLE TURTLE again.
LITTLE TURTLE was published by Random House and did okay for himself. He made the Book of the Month Club and was read aloud on national television, back in those early days when families gathered around the set to watch such shows as Captain Kangaroo. Mr. Green Jeans read my story about the uprooted little turtle who had to seek a new home. I was quite proud.
Years passed. LITTLE TURTLE eventually went out of print, then, miraculously, was reissued in a new format — same artist but all new artwork. Eventually the book went out of print for good with Random House. I retrieved my rights and am currently talking to a publisher who has an interest in bringing the story back to live in digital form. I hope the agreement is reached soon.
Over time my second book has made friends with young readers who have, themselves, been uprooted. I remember a mom who brought her little girl up to meet me after a talk to say that their family had recently moved and her daughter had been inconsolable. No friends. New surroundings. Too much to bear. She cried and stopped eating. One day at school her librarian suggested she check out LITTLE TURTLE. The girl took the book home and read it, repeatedly. She took the book to bed and slept with it. If a little turtle could find a new home and be happy, she could too. Her mom said that things changed after that and her daughter regained her usual sunny disposition.
On another occasion a conservation agent came up to say that when she was a little girl she read LITTLE TURTLE and it helped her to understand the importance of protecting our wildlife and natural resources. She credited the story with influencing her career choice.
And now, 46 years after LITTLE TURTLE was published, I have another favorite story. Last year I learned that a little girl named Melita who lived in Springfield and attended school here had moved with her family to another state. One of her favorite books was LITTLE TURTLE. She often checked it out of her school library. But in her new school, in a town where she knew no one, the book she needed was not available at her library. With help from her librarian here and her parents, I sent a signed copy of the book to the young girl.
Yesterday I received this wonderful picture of Melita from her dad, which he called, “Snowed in with Little Turtle.” With his permission I now present to you a great reminder of why a book in the hands of a child remains one of the sweetest gifts of all.