OF TIME AND TURTLES:
Mending the World, Shell by Shattered Shell
By Sy Montgomery, Matt Patterson (Illustrator)
HarperCollins (09/19/2023) 9780358458180
In the basement of a bright green but otherwise ordinary suburban house, two women are caring for hundreds, sometimes thousands, of sick and injured turtles.
There are painted and snapping turtles whose shells were crushed by cars; spotted turtles who were chewed by dogs; box turtles with shells deformed from years of inept care in captivity; exotic pet tortoises abandoned by their owners; turtles rescued from the illegal trade in wildlife; baby turtles hatched from eggs rescued from slain mothers.
Some of these cases seem hopeless. Turtles arrive with brain trauma, broken jaws, missing limbs. Fire Chief, a 42-pound, 60-year-old snapping turtle was hit by a truck, his back legs paralyzed, his shell smashed and bloodied. But Turtle Rescue League’s motto is “Never give up on a Turtle.” And when National Book award finalist Sy Montgomery and wildlife artist Matt Patterson joined them as volunteers, they took part in heart-pounding dramas and breathtaking miracles. Working with extraordinary humans and extraordinary turtles (including Fire Chief) forever changed their lives in ways they never could have suspected.
During the pandemic, much of the human world seemed to languish. But while helping heal the wounded, visiting a breeding facility for the world’s most endangered species, protecting backyard nests, and rescuing endangered cold-stunned sea turtles from a wintry beach, Montgomery and her companions found hope and meaning. During an era when clock and calendar seemed to stall, turtles–ancient, long-lived, shell-covered beings whose kind arose with the dinosaurs—proved to be unexpected guides to probing the mysteries of time itself.
Hopeful and deeply researched, warm and astonishing, this book is an invitation to slip into turtle time—not the tick-tock hurry of human hustle, but the sacred, eternal time of daylight, darkness, and seasons. It’s a story that shows us a way to heal a world beset with unprecedented perils, shell by shattered shell.