Monday 6 September 2021

Poppy, the Punk Turtle

Poppy, the Punk Turtle: Endangered Animal Tales 2 by Aleesah Darlison, illustrated by Mel Matthews (Puffin Books) HB RRP $19.99 ISBN 9781760899233

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

From the series on Endangered Animal Tales, about some of Australia's cutest and most vulnerable wildlife, comes this third book about a Mary River turtle which is only found in Queensland.

Darlison has garnered some very interesting facts about the turtle: it breathes through its bottom, it can stay underwater for three days before it needs to breathe through its mouth, it can only eat when submerged in water.

Why a ‘punk’ turtle? In the final double spread, we not only see a map of the animal’s habitat, but we learn they are often called ‘punk turtles’ because of their algae mohawks and the spikes under their chins. We also learn that it takes 15 years for a Mary River turtle to become an adult. There’s also a diagram of the turtle showing its special physiological features.


After the book begins with the turtles living on a stretch of the river ‘for millions of years’, we see that the turtles are omnivores and egg-laying. Poppy, the punk turtle, is seeking food: a dam has stopped the flow of fresh water. She desperately needs water and is soon lucky to discover a freshwater stream into which she dives.


This is a simple story with some very interesting facts about this eccentric Australian endangered animal. It would have added to the interest if a photograph of the turtle was included. As it is, the book is illustrated with bright colours, with Poppy looking very much like a punk.


This book is sure to be of interest to any young ecologist aged 5+ years.

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