Living Green: A Turtle’s Quest for a Cleaner Planet

A family of turtles has gathered to celebrate the wedding of Miss Taylor Turtley. It is a perfect day for all concerned, until suddenly they are pelted with garbage from a passing car on the nearby highway. Outraged, young Thurman the Turtle vows to take decisive action to stop the littering and spoiling of the turtles’ habitat.

Thurman swims upriver, where he will do… something. Along the way he encounters more garbage, finally winding up stuck in a discarded soda bottle. (Spoiler alert:) Rescued by a group of young students on a field trip, his story broadcast by a local TV station, Thurman becomes the inspiration for other schools to send students into the countryside to help clean it up. Meanwhile, Thurman returns to his family having learned the valuable lesson that one turtle can make a difference.

Artie Knapp’s Living Green is pleasant enough. Its characters and story are simple and relatable, and its message is positive and worthwhile. More cynical children and adults might be a little put off by the didacticism and heavy-handedness of the storytelling, but the book will be well-enjoyed by younger children. The illustrations and design look polished and professional, but oddly derivative of popular Children’s Lit icon, Franklin the Turtle. One wonders if this was intentional, or if there are simply not that many different ways to draw a turtle. Still, Living Green is a well-meaning and inoffensive introduction to environmental issues. for kids who are beginning to learn about the world around them.

Sara Hart is homeschooling mom of four and owner of Hart Home Daycare (, the first daycare in Ontario to be endorsed as Eco-Healthy by the Oregon Environmental Council.