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Kathleen Welton
The Magic Sea Turtle

Picture Book; Science, Nature, Technology; (Market)

Once upon a time, Myrtle chased her dreams–dreams of being a queen with a crown that sparkles like the sun. One day, she tumbles down, down, down into the sea. Max helps rescue her and a magic carpet flies her to a place even more amazing than her sandcastle dreams and she discovers an entire ocean of possibilities! There are dolphins who welcome her and a friendly otter with the biggest smile. They can teach her to swim and enjoy the day. Another magical glow surrounds Myrtle when she decides to stay and wishes to be a sea turtle like Max.

And guess what? Myrtle's fall may have been unexpected, but thanks to a touch of magic, it leads her to a place where her wishes come true. Myrtle becomes a queen AND a magic sea turtle too, ready for incredible adventures! Myrtle the Turtle learns that being a queen means having the best friends ever. And with her sparkly crown and a heart full of joy, she is the happiest queen the whole ocean has ever seen!

A young girl’s fancy takes flight in Welton’s charming debut picture book. In a distant kingdom bursting “with rays of light,” the inquisitive Myrtle gets lost one day while out picking apples. With no way back to her home, she skitters across the clouds in search of help, wondering “What on earth will happen to me?” Luckily, the wind whisks Myrtle down to the ocean, where, thanks to a couple of savvy seagulls and one very cheerful sea turtle named Max, Myrtle gently lands on a magic carpet, safely on Max’s back, surrounded by a flood of friendly ocean animals.

Myrtle’s journey is every bit as fanciful as readers might hope, given her dreamlike descent to the ocean. Pham paints her adventures in sweeping strokes of aquamarine wonder, as Myrtle is flanked by otters, dolphins, and even a quizzical octopus, all curiously asking her “Where is your home? And who are you? You came here right out of the blue.” She adapts to her new surroundings quickly, making friends and sharing her dreams—an inspiration for younger readers facing unfamiliar situations—and that willingness to stretch her wings pays off big in the end.

Welton’s rhyming structure feels forced in places, but Myrtle’s charisma and sense of whimsy more than make up for it. “In my land, I wished to be queen,” she announces, giving birth to a spectacular cavalcade of briny fun, as she learns to swim with dolphins, frolics with flying fish, and pretends to be a turtle alongside Max—culminating with a dramatic ending that plays off Myrtle’s imagination and special fondness for sea turtles. Welton’s pearls of wisdom—to “see what happens when you believe”—are the perfect fit for this saltwater romp, and Myrtle’s eventual transformation will make even the youngest reader believe in the magic of imagination.

Takeaway: Dreamy aquatic adventure that stretches the imagination.

Comparable Titles: Patrick McDonnell’s Shine!, Amy Sparkes’s Once Upon a Wish.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: A
Editing: B
Marketing copy: A

The Children's Book Review

"The Magic Sea Turtle is a story about learning how to grow and benefit from adversity. Change comes to everyone, but it can be a scary prospect for young readers. By following Myrtle's journey through making friends, adapting to a new environment, and revising her goals, readers will learn that change can be magical and exciting. The enchanted world of the story is brought to life with sparkling artwork that plays with light and color to create a dreamy ocean landscape. Along the way, readers will hear essential messages about growth and learning, delivered in rhyming text that is great for reading aloud. The Magic Sea Turtle is a delightful fairy tale, perfect for young readers who dream of the sea."

—The Children's Book Review