A Good Home, Courtice North Public School, Myrtle The Purple Turtle, Myrtle The Purple Turtle in the Schools, Young readers

A Great Morning with Young Readers

I spent a recent morning with dozens of young people at Courtice North Public School in Ontario.

Their teachers had included Myrtle the Purple Turtle in their recent studies. Principal Peter Bischoff invited me to visit.

Blog Photo - School Cynthia holds book and talks to students

I was nervous!

Writing for your readers is one thing. Hearing them talk about your book — and answering their questions — is quite another.

Myrtle the Purple Turtle

And though I’d won awards and acclaim for my children’s TV programs in earlier years, it’s been a long time since I visited a classroom.

The first thing I noticed was that Mrs. Murphy, the teacher who introduced me, treated the students with great respect, addressing them as “Ladies and gentlemen”.

When you are nine or ten years old and are addressed as “Ladies and gentlemen”, what do you do? You live up to it, of course.

Blog Photo - School students 1

Wow. What a smart, polite and thoughtful group. Their observations about the book’s key messages about difference, the role of friends, and accepting oneself and others, were sharp and eloquent.

We talked together about why “the mean turtle” behaved so badly toward Myrtle and whether that turtle might have herself been bullied and considered it normal to be mean.

That led us to talk about a sequel.

Myrtle Picture - Thud

“We followed Myrtle through her day and saw what happened before she met the other turtle,” one astute young woman noted.

“But we didn’t follow the other turtle before she and Myrtle met. Maybe the sequel could tell us more about what happened before to make her so mean.”

“But the story is about Myrtle the Purple Turtle, so if you (focus on) the other turtle, you’d have to change the title of that book to ‘The Mean Green Turtle'”, a young man observed. 

Blog Photo - School student writes

As you can imagine, the discussion was intensive and fabulous. Mrs. Murphy had asked me to talk a bit about the writing process. Discussing the characters and story development for the sequel was one practical way of doing so.

Blog Photo - School Cynthia holds book and talks to students

My great thanks to each and all of the students.

To principal Peter Bischoff, and the teachers of Grades 4, 5 and 6  — Mrs. Fedewicz, Mrs. Posteraro, Mrs. Durst and Mrs. Murphy: 

Thank you for using my book as a learning tool and thanks for your warm welcome.  You made my week!

Thanks to Jennifer Pym-Murphy for the photos. 

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Siblings Reading

There’s something about watching a child read a book you wrote.

It warms the heart.

That intense concentration, that look that says the rest of the world doesn’t exist right now.

Reading was like that for me as a child — I got entirely lost in the worlds of the books I read. 

Myrtle - Boys reading

Meet Jian Noa, 10, and younger brother Taj, 7. The brothers attend a French school in Toronto. Taj has been teaching himself to read in English and was proud to be able to read Myrtle.

They and their loving grandmother brought the book for me to autograph, and Taj read the book to me, and we all had a great visit.

Image may contain: 3 people, people sitting and child

Earlier, at a Christmas party hosted by friends in the countryside northwest of Toronto, I had the pleasure of meeting two other readers. In the middle of a room filled with adults — talking, drinking, eating appetizers, moving around — I noticed two children sitting on a sofa reading Myrtle.

Siblings Claire, 6 and Josh, 8, were totally absorbed in the book.

They read every page to each other as if they were the only people in the room.

When I asked what they thought of the book, they both responded with “I loved it.” When I asked why, Claire said: “I love the pictures and all the colours.”

Josh’s response nearly took my breath away: “I loved it because it teaches kids that it’s not how you look, it’s how nice you are that matters”.

Wow. Isn’t that wonderful?

 #loveyourshell 💜

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Myrtle Makes “The List”

The news today is that Myrtle has made “The List” — CQI Magazine’s list of must-read books. This is thrilling news indeed and we are very grateful.

At the end of the year, I also want to warmly acknowledge:

  • Reviewers and journalists who’ve shone a spotlight on Myrtle the Purple Turtle and helped make it a bestseller
  • Book-buyers who purchased a copy for their family, friends, local schools, libraries and charities — and some who sent me such delightful photos
  • Teachers who are using Myrtle to instil in their students the value of compassion, respect, self-acceptance and friendship 
  • Librarians who have bought copies of the book for their members
  • All of you who have supported my family and illustrator Jo Robinson along our unusual journey to publishing the story of Myrtle. That includes you — my blogging, Facebook and Twitter friends, who have cheered us on.

THANK YOU!

I wish you a healthy and rewarding new year.

2018 Colour of the Year, A Good Home, Myrtle The Purple Turtle, Purple

The Future is Purple

So says Pantone, the colour people. (But they call it ‘ultra violet’, mind you.)

And so declared Lauren, for whom Myrtle was originally written. She promptly created this image using a picture from Myrtle the Purple Turtle

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I seem to be spying purple everywhere these days! Here’s Queen Elizabeth, looking very fashion-forward:

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And what’s better than a box-fort? I love this photo of Nadine Janetta’s two daughters Ella (4) and Leah (2). (Eldest daughter Brooklyn is only partly in the photo.)

Nadine, who lives southwest of Toronto, says, “It was the perfect cozy place to cuddle up with your book.”

Blog Photo - Myrtle being read by girls in box

“The girls have fallen in love with Myrtle and her friends in this well-told story of self acceptance – Myrtle the Purple Turtle has become the most read and asked-for book in our home.”

Ella, who is 4, says she likes the picture of me in the book. (Thanks, Ella!) She likes the book “because Myrtle falls asleep on her back” and  “because she wants to be the same as the other turtles because she is purple”.

Brooklyn, who is 8, says: “It shows me that everyone’s different and you can’t change that.”

Nadine is one of three winners in the Myrtle giveaway in October.   The others are bloggers Alethea Kehas (New Hampshire) and Brad Volz (Arkansas). 

Their responses to Myrtle are lovely.

Myrtle the Purple Turtle
Myrtle the Purple Turtle, by Cynthia Reyes, illustrated by Jo Robinson

Alethea says Myrtle is “a beautifully written and illustrated tale of friendship and acceptance. I’m pretty sure I enjoyed it as much as my niece!” 

Brad calls Myrtle “a timely and timeless story most needed in our troubled world. Myrtle the Purple Turtle is a delightful book to help teach children to embrace both their uniqueness and shared humanity.” 

Thank you all! And remember: #loveyourshell!