Tuamor the Turtle author Jo Earlam is a former newspaper and BBC radio journalist. Mark Hannon is an illustrator and graphic designer. Both live near the sea in Devon.
Jo has always been passionate about recycling. When she was a child, she used to collect old newspapers from neighbours in a wheelbarrow and save them for a local charity, and she's been taking her own bags to supermarkets for 30 years. She's always been interested in the natural world and our human connection with it. She was originally inspired to write this story as part of a marine conservation project. She was helped by feedback from children at Bassetts Farm Primary School, Exmouth, where she is a volunteer reader. "I came up with the character of the turtle and the main body of the story in 2013, for a short story I wrote for the school children. He had been sitting in my head and my computer ever since, nagging away to do something more with him. I asked Mark if he could illustrate the book and his illustrations not only brought Tuamor to life, they helped me when it came to developing and tweaking the story. Finally, at the end of 2015, Tuamor the Turtle became a reality!"
"Reading Jo’s charming and emotionally poignant storyline helped me to see into the character of a gentle Pacific turtle, who just wants a happy, simple life. Some real characters emerge from the words, and I just sketched them as I saw them. The pencil sketches were then redrawn, refined, and scanned into the computer for final colour treatments. It was important to keep a naturalistic, watercolour feel to the illustrations, and to retain the cartoon feel and humour of the drawings, which appeal to young children. It was great fun, bringing Tuamor to life. And Jo’s story delivers a strong environmental message in a gentle, emotional way."
Tuamor the Turtle is published by Plymouth-based Brilliant Autobiographies, which is run by Laura Joint, a good friend of Jo and Mark. The 28-page book has around 1,500 words with colour and black and white illustrations. It's printed on environmentally-friendly paper by Significant Signs, Plymouth. The text and images have a target age of 6-8 years old but are suitable for all children of primary school age.
I am a "special" kind of turtle, you won't find another one like me anywhere in the world. The
words and illustrations used in the book are for a children's story and do not claim to be scientific. The story aims to raise awareness of this important issue and signpost young readers to find out more about turtles like me as well as specialist organisations working in this field, doing positive things to help keep our seas clean and clear :-)