Sy honored with the Ruth & James Ewing Arts Awards

Sy has been honored with the Ruth & James Ewing Arts Awards for Literary Arts. This is what the presenter said:

Sy Montgomery’s love of animals was frightfully apparent at an early age. She tells the story of breaking free from her parents at the Franklin Zoo, to be discovered later in the hippo pen, seemingly at ease and undaunted by one of the wild’s most dangerous creatures.

“I was fine, and the hippo was fine,” she says. “My parents were not fine!”
Sy is the author of 35 nonfiction books about nature and animals, and a winner of a Ruth and James Ewing Arts Awards for literary arts this year. Through her extensive travels, she says, “I’ve just met the most incredible people and the most incredible turtles. And I’ve met incredible dolphins, and I’ve met incredible tigers and I’ve met incredible snow leopards. The animals always come through. They always show you something astonishing.”
At one point, she had wanted to be a veterinarian, but her father had been reading her newspaper news stories about animals under threat in the wild. Her calling, as it turned out, was to educate readers, particularly children, about the wonders of animal life.

She majored in magazine journalism, French language and literature and psychology at Syracuse University, where she met her husband, Howard Mansfield, also a winner this evening.

After graduating in 1979, took reporting jobs in New York and New Jersey. While in New Jersey, her father gave her a ticket to Australia, but Sy wasn’t going to be a tourist. She joined Earthwatch, which pairs volunteers with scientific and conservation projects around the world. The organization connected her with a wombat preserve in southern Australia.
“The principal investigator for that project … could see that I was on fire to do this, that I just was in my element and I loved it.”

So, she quit her newspaper job and moved to the Outback. Her newsroom experience influenced her writing, honoring a rule that writing must be understandable.
“Children are just as smart as adults … but they haven’t been alive long enough to have the same vocabulary or to be exposed to so many of the concepts that we take for granted. So, you just put yourself in their shoes,” she says.

Sy takes a field journal with her on all trips and writes a nightly essay. After a couple of years of this, she’s ready to merge them into a book. “You don’t want to start until you kind of know where you’re going to end.”

Water Street Books, Exeter, NHSy and Matt were welcomed by the turtle faithful at Water Street Books in Exeter, New Hampshire.

First Church, Belfast, ME

Sy and Matt enjoyed their visit to Left Bank Books in Belfast, Maine. So many readers came they had to move to a bigger space across the street at First Church. They sold out of The Book of Turtles — but Sy and Matt signed a stack of full-color, oversize, turtle-themed bookplates for the next batch of books that are coming.

Of Time and Turtles sample page

Kids Book A Day is a book blog by Janet Dawson. She’s the librarian at the Rebecca Johnson Elementary School in Springfield, Massachusetts. Janet recently recommended The Book of Turtles:

Pros: Montgomery has a knack for focusing on facts and information that will be of most interest to readers. The acrylic paintings look almost like photos and show incredible details of a wide variety of turtles. Kids who already love turtles will be thrilled, and others may become fans after reading this book.

Cons: I wish this book had been around during my daughter’s decade-long obsession with turtles.”

Sy signs turtle books for a long line of fans at the American Library Association (ALA) convention in Chicago.
Sy signs turtle books for a long line of fans at the American Library Association (ALA) convention in Chicago.

Reviewers love The Book of Turtles:

Publishers Weekly: “Montgomery and Patterson astonish with this fact-driven turtle tribute…. Every page is an authoritative delight in this conservation-minded ode poised to turn anyone into a turtle lover.”

Also in Publishers Weekly, Kenny Brechner, owner of DDG Booksellers in Farmington, Maine, notes the bestselling children’s books of the season, saying: “The presence of Sy Montgomery’s The Book of Turtles on the list was no surprise both because we put it right by the counter and because it is amazing. What a sublime concordance of information and imagery.”

The Horn Book: “Sometime around 240 million years ago—about the time of the first dinosaurs, and 9 million years before the first crocodile—the shell invented the turtle.” With this cheekily thought-provoking opening sentence, acclaimed science writer Montgomery introduces turtles to young readers.”