Toby is bright, fun, and teaches young readers about how newly hatched turtles make their way to the relative safety of the ocean. While the plucky Toby faces many dangers on his way to the water, and there is tension in the story, there is not a frightening feel to the story. Readers will root for Toby and enjoy both the rhythm and flow of the text. the illustrations pair pretty much perfectly with the story, imparting extra bits of information and some fun on each page.
I would recommend Toby for reading one on one with young readers, in classroom or storytime settings, and for interested readers to explore on their own. the story will speak particularly to animal and adventure fans, but could also be used as a discussion starter about nature, turtles, young animals, the environment, and more.
1. Exactly how many pencils did you destroy in the making of Toby? As a fellow pencil chewer I really need to know.
- Toby pencil toll: Well...let's just say I'm learning to whittle my own pencils now. You wouldn't think chewing pencils is an expensive habit, but oh the things teachers don't tell us. Pencils are expensive! I tried mechanical, but plastic isn't nearly as inspiring as wood slivers between my teeth. The upside: I can now whittle!
- Munchies (besides pencils): Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate! I have two chocolate bars in my right hand desk drawer (see incriminating photo). So, chocolate is definitely my munchie of choice. However, if that's not cutting it, I bring in the gummy bears. I like how I can squish them when I'm really frustrated, but they spring right back, and then we get these little gummy bear adventures going where they scale my computer (no incriminating photos. Gummy bears are way too shy), which makes me totally forget why I got them in the first place...until I eat them. Oops.
- Super secret writing quirk: I run. I run every morning at about 5:30. It's so early and so dark, it's like being in a half sleep/meditation place where my dog, Desi, who runs with me, and I have conversations about writing. Desi swears this isn't true, but since she refuses to talk outside out little runs, it's my word against hers. Between you and me, we all know who's right. Dogs talk! or is it rock?? Either way, running with my dog is where I work out story problems and get a lot of cool new ideas. My dog is my best writing partner ever, which is why I feature her in my upcoming picture book, WAGGERS.
Stacy A. Nyikos is the author of three aquatic picture books, Squirt, Shelby & Dizzy (Stonehorse), as well as a middle grade novel, Dragon Wishes (Blooming Tree Press, 2008). Her books have received numerous awards, including Winner in the Arizona Authors Literary Contest, Finalist in ForeWord Magazine's Book of the Year, and Featured Picture Book of the Oklahoma Aquarium.
Stacy conducts school visits at both elementary and middle schools across the U.S., using dummy books, selected (somewhat embarrassing) early drafts of her writing, and power point presentations to teach children about story-making and sea life. In 2008, she will finally! be able to add Chinese dragons to her presentations.