Mark Wilson is an artist/illustrator/author and passionate conservationist. He has written and illustrated a number of books for children with strong environmental themes. In ‘Journey ofthe Sea Turtle,’ he tells the story of a loggerhead turtle, from birth to migration and back to the beach where she was born. When she returns, she finds that there is nowhere to lay her eggs. She becomes tangled in netting and struggles to survive. Finally the sight of shadow birds in the sky lead her to a new beach.
The story deals with loss and degradation of habitat and the threats posed to turtles from human activities. In his teacher’s notes, Wilson is keen to point out the significance of turtles as a keystone species and their importance in the marine food chain. You can contact Mark for copies of his teacher’s notes.
The book also delves into the life cycles of the turtles and the predator/prey relationship with the ‘shadow birds,’ sea birds which prey upon the young turtle hatchlings as they emerge from their nests and head for the ocean. The turtle knows that it is time to lay her eggs by the temperature of the sea. At the end of his book, Wilson highlights the point that ‘it is estimated that only one in a thousand baby loggerhead turtles form one nesting beach near Bundaberg in Queensland will survive life at sea, to return in thirty years as a nesting adult.’
I love the structure and colour of the illustrations in this book. On some pages, the texture of the canvas for the paintings clearly shows through. On others there is a mixture of pencil sketches and colour. I like the way Wilson has shown the passage of time with the pages illustrating the hatchlings development from eggs. The blues, yellows and greens blend to make the ocean seem as if it will spill out of the page.
Although the text is simple and able to be understood by the very young, there are also more complex issues here which could lead to further work on habitat, lifecycles, food chains and the requirements of living things.
Interested in finding out more about sea turtles?
For some art ideas about the book, check out what this school has done.
NATIONAL CURRICULUM LINKS (as from ACARA)
Biological sciences (Foundation)
Living things have basic needs, including food and water
- recognising the needs of living things in a range of situations such as pets at home, plants in the garden or plants and animals in bushland
Biological sciences (Year 1)
Living things have a variety of external features
- recognising common features of animals such as head, legs and wings
- describing the use of animal body parts for particular purposes such as moving and feeding
Living things live in different places where their needs are met
- exploring different habitats in the local environment such as the beach, bush and backyard
- recognising that different living things live in different places such as land and water
Biological sciences (Year 2)
Living things grow, change and have offspring similar to themselves
- representing personal growth and changes from birth
- recognising that living things have predictable characteristics at different stages of development
- exploring different characteristics of life stages in animals such as egg, caterpillar and butterfly
- observing that all animals have offspring, usually with two parents
Biological sciences (Year 4)
Living things have life cycles
- making and recording observations of living things as they develop through their life cycles
- describing the stages of life cycles of different living things such as insects, birds, frogs and flowering plants
Living things, including plants and animals, depend on each other and the environment to survive.
- investigating the roles of living things in a habitat, for instance producers, consumers or decomposers
- observing and describing predator-prey relationships
- predicting the effects when living things in feeding relationships are removed or die out in an area
- recognising that interactions between living things may be competitive or mutually beneficial.
Biological sciences (Year 5)
Living things have structural features and adaptations that help them to survive in their environment.
- describing and listing adaptations of living things suited for the Australian environment
- exploring general adaptations for particular environments such as water conservation in deserts
- explaining how particular adaptations help survival such as nocturnal behaviour, silvery coloured leaves of dune plants
- comparing types of adaptations such as behavioural and structural
Earth and Space Sciences (Foundation)
Daily and seasonal changes in our environment, including the weather, affect everyday life.
- investigating how changes in the weather might affect animals such as pets, animals that hibernate, or migratory animals
Earth and Space Sciences (Year 1)
Observable changes occur in the sky and the landscape.
- exploring the local environment to identify and describe natural, managed and constructed features
- recording short and longer term patterns of events that occur on Earth and in the sky, such as the appearance of the moon and stars at night, the weather and the seasons
Earth and Space Sciences (Year 4)
Earth’s surface changes over time as a result of natural processes and human activity .
- collecting evidence of change from local landforms, rocks or fossils
- considering how different human activities cause erosion of the Earth’s surface
- considering the effect of events such as floods and extreme weather on the landscape, both in Australia and in the Asia region
Author/Illustrator: Mark Wilson
Lothian Books, 2009
Journey of a Sea Turtle is availabe through educational suppliers Lamont and all book stores. Lamont may have copies of teacher’s notes available.