A Turtle's Tail
by Travis Cole

"Splash knew they were making fun of him, but that didn’t bother him. Splash was determined to prove to the world just how good he could be."

Splash is a turtle who dreams of success as a speed swimmer in an animal Olympics. He faces scorn and underestimation from speedier seals and a skeptical animal kingdom, yet he perseveres and makes good friends along the way.

This is an underdog—or “underturtle”—story of big dreams and hard work. As Splash grows up and travels across the world in pursuit of his goal, he faces setbacks and marshals creativity and character to propel himself forward even in his darkest moments of fear and self-doubt. Such a tale of challenge and triumph can be a great fit for young readers. Splash is a relatable youngster, an aspirational figure, and he and his fellow animals are rendered in inviting, non-threatening language and illustrations. Of course, any story of a racing turtle evokes thoughts of that famous tortoise who so steadily and seriously stayed his course and beat the hare who, despite the gift of natural speed, lacked the wherewithal to focus on a race and finish what he started. Splash’s story reads like an homage to this other famous competing duo.

As children’s books go, this one is lengthy, with many words and details that could challenge the attention span of picture-book-age readers who are accustomed to a briefer story and arc. The intricacies of racing times and evolving thoughts may lose younger readers who are attracted by the picture book appearance but lack the focus for so much content. However, small wins and milestones along the way help keep kids firmly in Splash’s camp, and he’s an easy hero to root for.

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