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Chelonia Green, Champion of Turtles.

Like most of my stories, the seeds of Chelonia Green, Champion of Turtles were sown in my childhood. When I was in Year 5, I was blessed to have a teacher who introduced us to the word ecology, seldom heard in 1941, and took us exploring the extensive school grounds to discover its meaning. That year I started keeping a nature diary of observations in our garden and bush near our home. The next year I had my first pieces published in the children's pages of the nature magazine Wild Life and the Sydney Morning Herald. Since then many of my stories, such as Cockawun and Cockatoo, reflect the love of nature which she fostered, and many of my characters reflect my belief that one person can make a difference in caring for the environment, such as Matt in The Battle of the Galah Trees, Tony in Lizard Log, and Chellie in Chelonia Green, Champion of Turtles.

The school principal also had a lasting influence on me, turning me into a lifelong anti-litter campaigner. She went round the grounds every afternoon and if she found so much as a single piece of orange peel or an apple core, the whole school would be berated next morning in assembly. I have picked up other people's rubbish in parks, on the beach and in the bush ever since.

When we stayed on a beautiful island leased by one of our sons, I was shocked to see the amount of litter washed up on its eight otherwise pristine beaches. It is one of many islands along the Queensland coast where turtles return after decades at sea to lay their eggs in the very sands where they themselves hatched. Turtles are amazing creatures and I have loved to watch them swimming so gracefully in the waters off the West Australia, South Australia and Queensland.

But now turtles are endangered by marine pollution, at risk of drowning, strangled by discarded fishing lines and nets, choked by plastic bags and other objects which they mistake for food. Watching 14 or 15 turtles at rest in a big rock pool after their amazing swim from their feeding grounds across the Pacific, then finding the remains of one on a lovely beach which should have been a birth place, not a burial place, inspired me to write Chelonia Green. Chellie is as passionate as I was at her age, and still am, to protect our beautiful environment and its wonderful creatures. I hope her determination and initiative inspire others to care for our planet.

Christobel Mattingley


Chelonia Green, Champion of Turtles


Chelonia Green is a powerful story that demonstrates how a child might become an agent for change in an adult world. Christobel Mattingley's Chellie is a brave and persistent little girl outraged by the senseless death of an endangered female turtle as a result of pollution. Her subsequent enthusiasm and determination to clean up her local beaches inspires her parents and teacher to lend a hand and to help Chellie enlist the assistance of others. The beach clean up scenes reveal just how much damage is done when rubbish is allowed to enter our waterways and provides rich opportunities for discussion about the disposal of rubbish in our own communities.

The story is lots of fun and easy to relate to as the families work together and enjoy a beachside camping adventure as the turtle colony faces its uncertain future. The role of the teacher throughout the story demonstrates the positive role the school can play in making connections to the 'real' lives of children outside school. In parts, the storyline is somewhat simplified and not quite believable, (for example, the helicopter arrives within a day of her teacher offering to tell the turtles' story to a friend). However, this is easily forgiven as its simplicity makes the story more accessible to a younger audience, therefore including them in this opportunity to embrace its important message.

Chelonia Green is a lovely story to support children in lower, middle and upper primary school as they investigate human impact on the environment and our responsibility to care for and protect it.

Jessica Baker

I really enjoyed reading Chelonia Green. I have heard of the author quite a few times before, but have never seen this book. I read the story all at once but then looked back at some bits. I really liked Chellie and how much she cared for the turtles. Chellie was a really kind girl, she really cared for the environment. I would like her as a friend because she sounds kind and cares for turtles, which is my favourite animal. I read the whole book and didn't want to put it down. It isn't like other books but it wasn't strange. My favourite bit was the chapter The Challenge. I liked it because that's the bit where you realise that you should not litter and that turtles are endangered just because of some rubbish! I also liked it because it's where Chellie realised that she could do something about the rubbish and turtles. I think people about my age are the ones that should read it. If a teacher wanted her class to know this book I think she should tell them about it then get them to read it.


I think that it is a good book to talk about after you've read it because it helps people learn not to litter. I think after you have read it and know how dangerous it is to litter you should not just dump your rubbish in the water but in the bin, and be like Chellie and clean up.


8 years


I really like this book because it is about saving the environment. It is a very convincing story about Chellie, a girl who lives on an island. She loves the turtles. But, when her favourite turtle dies because of human rubbish she has to help. This book would be good for students who are grade 2 and above.

By Elinor

8 years
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Title Annotation:Text Talks for Young Readers
Publication:Practically Primary
Article Type:Book review
Date:Oct 1, 2008
Previous Article:Belonging--Jeannie Baker (2004).
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