Moon Over Bioko by Heidi Rader

Susanna Leonard Hill has a feature on her blog called Perfect Picture Book Friday. It is a list of “perfect” picture books recommended by all sorts of people. I chose this book because it has an important message about how sea turtles are endangered.

Moon Over Bioko – The Turtles of Bioko Island

By Heidi Rader

Illustrated by Holly Smith

Published by Wildlife Conservation Publishers in 2011

44 pages – ages 8+

Theme/Topic – Conservation / Endangered animals

Opening and Synopsis – “Filemon sat in the dark atop the black volcanic rock at the edge of the forest trail that leads to the sea: The sky twinkled with a million stars.” A warm breeze gently blew and the full, round, moon shone brightly over the black sand beaches of Bioko Island. Yes, it was a perfect night for nesting sea turtles.”

Deme wants to help his father and the scientists record important information about the sea turtles that make their nests on the beach of Bioko Island (an island off the coast of Africa) every year. They have to measure the turtles, identify them and count the eggs they lay. Deme’s father tells him to work hard in school and when he learns the math and skills he needs, that he can help with the turtles. Deme works very hard at school and when the turtles come back Deme’s father tells him that he can help! Deme learns many things about the sea turtles and how they are endangered. He learns how poachers and pollution hurt the sea turtles and what he can do to help. Deme also learns that the sea turtles have been around since the dinosaurs were on the earth and leather back turtles can grow up to 7 feet long! Best of all he learns about what great creatures the turtles are!

Why I liked this book – I think this book really gave excellent facts about sea turtles, about their life cycle, how conservationists help save them and what dangers the sea turtles face. What was really cool was that I learned all these facts in a story about a little boy! That was a fun way to learn. The illustrations were marvelous and I went to an event where I met the author and illustrator for the book (I tell you about it below) and I found out that Ms. Smith drew these awesome illustrations by hand without ever seeing a real sea turtle. She just did a lot of research so she could make them look how they really do.

Activities and Resources – For information where to buy the book and more information on the book go to the publisher’s website HERE. Bioko Biodiversity Protection Program click HERE Sea Turtle Conservancy “Turtle Tides” activities for kids HERE

To find more Perfect Picture Books please visit Susanna Hill’s blog  HERE!


I also wanted to tell you about the event I went to at Harleysville Books where I met the author (Heidi Rader), illustrator (Holly Smith) and the person who put the book together (Peter Muir). The event was to raise money for the Perkiomen Watershed Conservancy which had a  flood when hurricane Irene hit our area and wrecked their children’s library. Mr. Muir told us about how the book was made – literally, he told us how the book went from words on a page to words with pictures, to a computer file and finally made into a hard cover book. This was really cool because most of us kids didn’t know a lot about the journey a book has to go through. Mr. Muir also told us about the story in the book. Then Ms. Rader talked about how she is one of the conservationists that research the turtles of Bioko Island (Bioko Island is a tiny island off the coast of Africa). She told us about 4 types of sea turtles, Leatherback, Hawksbill, Atlantic Green, and Olive Ridley, and that some of the turtles can get to be 7 or 8 feet long and weigh as much as a car! We got to try on model life-size turtle shells! Sadly, I got the smallest turtle shell (the Olive Ridley) and my tiny sister got a much bigger one (the Atlantic Green).  Ms. Rader also talked about her conservation work and how we all can help the turtles by being responsible for our trash. Then Ms. Smith taught us how to draw a Leatherback turtle and we all got to try it! She told us how if you make a simple turtle but if you keep working at it you can make it more detailed and make it look like the real thing!  You can see my sister’s sea turtle drawing HERE. It was an AWESOME event and I want to learn even more about sea turtles!

Categories: Age 6-9, Age 9+

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

50 replies

  1. Oh, wow, I would have so loved to hold one of those real turtle shells. That looks like such a brilliant event. It is nice to see a conservationist book for slightly older elementary kids. I imagine with 54 pages, they have packed in quite a lot of information in there. The longevity and size of turtles is mind blowing as is their place in evolutionary history. Great review, Erik.

    • Oops! It’s 44 pages – not 54 but it is still packed with information. I just changed it (thanks!). The book is written for a little older kids but I think parents can read it to younger kids. The turtle shells weren’t actual turtle shells (I think because they are endangered) but Ms. Rader and Ms. Smith made the shells to look exactly what you would see on a real turtle! It was great! I am glad you like my review!

  2. Great review. I’ve RT’d it.

  3. Awesome book choice, Erik! I love books about endangered species and am particularly fond of sea turtles. Two of my kids went to Costa Rica and did beach patrol to protect the laying turtles from poachers and other dangers. They actually saw the titles laying and got to help collect the eggs and place them in incubators.

    How incredible that you got to meet the creators of the book and try on the shells!

    • I would love to see the real turtles and learn more about them! That’s cool your kids got to do that! My friend David went to the Bahamas and got to see an Atlantic Green Turtle swimming i the ocean. He said it was huge!

  4. This is a wonderful review on Conservation of the turtles. You certainly would have learnt an awful lot especially meeting the author. I smiled at Joanna’s comment, knowing how much she loves animals/conservation, like her I would love to have held a turtle shell. That was so cool!
    Erik I posted in my comments to Joanna on my PPBF Blog a website called Gareth’s world… you might be interested in that too.
    I especially liked that you learnt how a book developes from words to completion… that would have been interesting…. wish I had seen that to.

  5. It’s wonderful the book is from the boy’s perspective. And, how cool you got to wear a turtle shell and learn more about the book.

  6. That is wonderful Erik. How nice that we have a penguin one and a turtle one on the same day. You get to go to some super events Erik. Great review!

  7. Thanks for introducing us to this book Erik. I’ve been using a fascinating nonfiction book: Across a Wide Ocean by Karen Romano Young as a source for something I’m writing, and she writes quite a lot about sea turtles. Their internal compass is fascinating. I’ll check this out for my two boys.

  8. Erik- great choice! I love conservation books and will definitely have to check this out once I get back from my trip to West Africa. Thanks!

  9. WOW, what a great choice Erik. I love conservation books that are told through the eyes of a child — adds to the adventure and interest level. You were very forutnate to attend the author’s event at the book store. To see the shells up close, must have been very interesting. I like sea turtles. I have a friend in Florida that goes out early in the morning with a group and checks the nesting areas during the season. They wait for the eggs to hatch and assist the little hatchlings with flashlights if necessary. My friend lives on a small island. All the islanders try to protect the eggs. Again, I really liked your book selection.

    • Thank you! It’s cool that you have a friend that helps with the sea turtles! THe event was fun and it helped me learn about sea turtles even more. We got to see a vedio of the turtles hatching and trying to go to the sea (before being eaten by seagulls, lizards and crabs 🙁 ).

  10. I love sea turtles! I had a close encounter with one once in Hawaii. They’ve actually been turning up on our shores up here in Canada, which is unusual…Thanks for sharing this book.

  11. This book sounds fantastic! I agree, it is amazing that she was able to draw the turtles so beautifully without seeing them in person! We always love when Animal Planet has a show on about sea turtles. Their story is so cool. Thanks Erik!

  12. Erik, what a great book. Two summers ago we spent two weeks at my parent’s in NC. Their beach is a nesting place for Leatherback Sea Turtles. My kids were amazed and fell in love with sea turtles. The conservation efforts there are impressive as there is a maritime museum with a section dedicated to sea turtles. Thanks for sharing your book and your fabulous experience meeting the people who helped make this book.

  13. My son loves sea creatures, including Sea turtles. I’ll look for this next time I’m out. Thanks for the detailed review Erik!!

  14. I was so happy to read that you and your sister enjoyed the event at the Harleysville Bookstore. I’m very flattered by all the wonderful and thoughtful things you wrote about the book. It is obvious you have a talent for writing. And it was great to see the photos from the event included – how lucky Heidi and I are that you attended!

    I’ve signed up to receive your blog and look forward to reading your future reviews. It was very nice to meet you, as well as your mom and sister.

    Thank you again for the terrific piece on Moon Over Bioko and the follow-up email. You’re a pro!

  15. Another great review. I’m sorry ,but I have been bragging about you and your reviews. Hope that’s OK.

  16. Wonderful selection for PPBF, Erik! So many of the books this Friday are ones I would love to read, not only read with kids! And this is one of them. It’s so important for us all to stress conservation and preservation of the environment and the inhabitants of our planet. Often, people forget that all of the creatures (us included) of the earth depend on one another.

  17. What a great experience you had at the library! I love hearing the process of how authors and illustrators create. This book sounds like one worth finding for our collection. We saw some beautiful sea turtles at a marine conservation center while we were traveling in Florida. They were 80 years old!

  18. Erik, one of the reasons Heidi (the author of Moon Over Bioko) and I get along so well is because of my passion for communicating and helping others learn. When we started talking about how to get a book designed, printed and published I got very excited to share with her what I knew about the process and get involved.

    After reading some of your blog posts about what you love in the books you read AND how you use your blog to tell others about what you learn from what gets share–that makes me smile! Keep the learning going, you’re doing a great job!

  19. I love sea turtles. I grew up in South Florida. The Keys. And the sea turtles let you pet them when they come up on shore. It’s a glorious time. This is an awesome review and I will definitely buy the book. It’s a great book for homeschool. *waving*

  20. Erik, one hot summer many years ago there was a sea turtle that got off track (I think maybe after a storm that changed the currents a bit) and ended up in one of our smaller harbours here in Nova Scotia, Canada. Sea turtles didn’t usually come that far inshore, but it was not unheard of, just not frequent. The turtle was so large that it took up the space of one of the fishing boats. Many people, including my parents and my sister and I, found their way to see that turtle which was soon going to be escorted back out to sea so it could survive. They are amazing animals.
    I just thought you may find that true story interesting. 🙂

  21. Wonderful picture book idea! It’s a great way to introduce taking care of the environment & that our actions affect wildlife. It looks like a fun book event to even dress like a turtle! 🙂 I’ll need to check out this book.

  22. Erik, I’m glad I’m finally getting time to check out last week’s PPBFs — this book sounds excellent. I always take particular delight when you have a bonus feature like meeting an author, and this one was especially interesting, since you — and we — learned so much from both the book, and the bonus. Cool picture of you and Josie! Thanks for sharing this. I learn so much from just reading people’s reviews of such excellent books.

  23. From the Marine turtle Station of Ostional .COngratulations on such a beutufull book.

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