We the Sea Turtles cover

By Michelle Kadarusman

We the Sea Turtles

Nine beautifully evocative short stories from the pen of Governor General’s Award finalist Michelle Kadarusman

On islands around the world—from Manhattan to Phillip Island, Australia, to Komodo Island and beyond—nine children face life-changing moments: escaping a flood; embracing their identity; discovering that the adults in their lives can ease the burden of their eco-anxiety. And although each child couldn’t be more different, one thing connects them all: a turtle swam into each of their lives at a critical moment, and left them changed.

Author Michelle Kadarusman has lived and travelled all around the world, and her elegant writing captures the spirit of the places that have left their mark on her. In We the Sea Turtles, she explores relevant themes like eco-anxiety, natural disaster, and how people ground themselves when they’ve been uprooted. One way, as this collection shows, is to tell ourselves stories: stories that make sense of life.

Available In


Ages 8-12
ISBN: 978-1-77278-285-1
List Price: $22.95 CAD / $18.95 USD
Trim Size: 5.50 x 8.00 inches / 13.97 x 20.32cm
Pages: 208

Publication date: September 26, 2023

Distributed in Canada by University of Toronto Press

Distributed in the U.S. by Ingram Publisher Services

Carton Quantity: 40

About this book


Praise for We the Sea Turtles: A collection of island stories

2024 Bank Street College of Education “Best Children’s Books of the Year” Selection 

Kirkus “150 Most Anticipated Books of the Fall 2023” Selection

2024 Children’s Book Council Best Books for Kids & Teens Selection 

CBC “20 Canadian Books to Give to Kids and Teens this Holiday Season” 2023 Selection 

Quill & Quire Young Readers Books of the Year 2023 Selection  

Quill & Quire “2023 Fall Preview: Middle Grade and Graphic Novels” Feature

2023 Children’s Book Council “Hot off the Press September” Selection 

CBC Books “26 Canadian early reader and middle-grade books to read in fall 2023” Selection

CBC Books “Sustainability and the Environment Fall 2023” Selection

49th Shelf Fall 2023 “Most Anticipated Books for Young Readers” Selection

FOLD Kids: 2023 Winter Reading List Selection 

“A compilation of tales with four threads running through them: islands, sea turtles, environmentalism, and heart….a strong collection of stories….a great choice for discussions not only about the environment and climate change, but also about character-building subjects like the importance of honesty and being a good friend….Great for classroom discussion; hand this collection to a budding environmentalist looking for realistic stories with heart.”—School Library Journal

“Turtles swim in and out of this collection of nine gentle stories. Canadian novelist Kadarusman uses short stories to deftly explore emotional turning points in young lives…. All have a strong environmental component; the writer’s own love for the natural world is evident. The settings are well depicted, and the racially, nationally, and economically diverse characters are distinctive….An exploration to be savored.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Kadarusman looks at the consequences of climate change through the perspectives of those who stand to lose the most—children….Kadarusman’s message of hope and taking action—however small—makes these stories relevant for our times and essential reading for the young. Kadarusman sets her stories on islands across the world…and brings these lush locations and their flora and fauna to life with her evocative writing. Her deep love for nature shines through….Sea turtles, which have been around since the age of the dinosaurs and are now endangered, become symbolic in these stories of what we stand to lose and what we need to save.”Quill and Quire

“These lovely writings present positive, enlightening scenarios as they depict the very different lives and approaches of island residents around the world, from Manhattan to Komodo Island in Indonesia. This makes for a collection that is diverse in its environments, but unified in its messages of positive growth.”Midwest Book Review Children’s Bookwatch

“The characters and settings are diverse, giving readers opportunities to sympathize with young people who have eco-anxiety or who are experiencing the impacts of climate change firsthand. Readers will also be inspired by the myriad ways the young characters choose to make a difference.”Hakai Magazine

“Ultimately, We the Sea Turtles is a book about the wonder of nature and the tenacity and beauty of its creatures, in particular the sea turtle. By encouraging kids to love and be inspired by their natural surroundings, author Michelle Kadarusman hopes to encourage a generation of children to play a positive role in the future of our planet. There is lots of fruitful content for thought and discussion. Highly Recommended.”—CM Reviews

We the Sea Turtles takes readers on a ride around the world from Georgian Bay to Java in nine ecological stories. Perfect for fans of Sit by Deborah Ellis, each tale weaves memorable characters with Michelle Kadarusman’s evocative writing.”—Colleen Nelson, award-winning author of The Umbrella House and The Undercover Book List

“This anthology explores relevant themes like eco-anxiety, natural disaster, and the change people are forced to make when they are uprooted. Kadarusman expertly presents scientific information guided by the sincere environmental concerns that many young people reflect upon.…This is an ideal read-aloud source for grade 4 to 6 classrooms….I loved it.”—Dr. Larry Recommends

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