Follow the Moon Home: A Tale of One Idea, Twenty Kids, and a Hundred Sea Turtles

Follow the Moon Home: A Tale of One Idea, Twenty Kids, and a Hundred Sea Turtles
by Philippe Cousteau and Deborah Hopkinson

Illustrated by Meilo So

Readers Theater

Book Trailer

Author Interview – Cousteau

Author Interview – Hopkinson

Illustrator Interview – So

Related Activities & Resources:

Informational Resources:

Author Information:

Phlippe Cousteau website

Philippe Cousteau biography from EarthEcho International:

Philippe Cousteau Jr: Protecting Oceans (21:04)

One on One – Philippe Cousteau (22:24)

Philippe Cousteau – Continuing a Legacy/Bioneers (37:34)

Philippe Cousteau – In My Own Words (5:11)

Author Information:

Deborah Hopkinson website:

Deborah Hopkinson biography:

Deborah Hopkinson biography:

Deborah Hopkinson biography:

A video interview with Deborah Hopkinson (:46)

Interview with Deborah Hopkinson, author of Titanic: Voices from the Disaster:

Interview with Author Deborah Hopkinson:

Interview with Deborah Hopkinson – Laurie Ann Thompson:

Interview with Award-Winning Author Deborah Hopkinson:

Illustrator Information:

Meilo So Illustrations:

Meilo So Facebook:

Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Meilo So:

Kids@Random Author Spotlight:

Activities & Resources:

Teacher’s Guide for Follow the Moon Home


Get Involved!

Read Philippe Cousteau’s Letter to Young Activists  in the back matter of Follow the Moon Home. Using the five steps that Cousteau outlines in his letter, select a project and implement the steps (individual or class project). Specific details for each step are described in Cousteau’s letter.

Read “Some rules for walking on beaches with nesting sea turtles” in the book’s back matter. Choose one of the rules and design a poster for that rule. Extend this activity to include posters that address any aspect of environmental awareness.

A public service announcement (PSA) is a message that the media (television, Internet, radio, billboard) presents without charge for the purpose of educating the public about a specific issue that affects the wellbeing of the community. Select a medium (television, Internet, radio, or billboard) and create a public service announcement (PSA) about sea turtle conservation, using information from one of the sites in the “Explore and Learn” section below. To see how you would change the message to fit the medium, create a second PSA for another medium. Extend this activity to include PSA development that address any aspect of environmental awareness.

Explore Philippe Cousteau’s Earth Echo International site.  Follow the link to the World Water Monitoring Challenge to check out the scientific exploration that students do as they evaluate and record the water quality in the community. Talk with your teacher about getting your class involved and think of ways to fund the cost of the water kits – be an activist!

Duke University Libraries, Sea Turtles in the Classroom

This unit provides lessons, activities, worksheets, and other materials for an in-depth study of sea turtles, including loggerheads  Select some of the activities from the teacher resources, or explore the entire unit with a science class:

Websites devoted to kids helping to save the environment

Kids can save the earth:

How kids can help the environment:

Kids Environment/Kids Health (National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences):

Earth Day Every Day:

Explore and Learn

If accessible through the library, check the TexQuest digital resources for articles on sea turtles. conservation programs, and environmentalism. These resources include Britannica Online School Edition, National Geographic Kids (Gale), Kids InfoBits (Gale), ¡Informe! (Gale), ProQuest SIRS Discoverer and  See the campus librarian for login information for TexQuest resources.

Use the sites below to gather information for student/class projects or just to find out more about these topics in the book.

Sea Turtles:

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s webpage:

South Carolina United Turtle Enthusiasts:

The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History’s “Ocean Portal”:

Daufuskie Island Conservancy’s Loggerhead Sea Turtles:

Conservation Programs:

South Carolina Marine Turtle Conservation Program:

South Carolina Marine Turtle Conservation Program, Lights Out for Loggerheads:

“How You Can Help Sea Turtles” webpage on the Defenders of Wildlife website:

Sea Turtle Conservancy:

Kid-Friendly Turtle Resources:

MakerSpace Activities:

Make a 3-D map of the school’s neighborhood, using the illustration of Vivienne’s town as a guide. If available, with basic circuitry skills and tools, use LEDs to illuminate various spaces of importance in the neighborhood.

Create a loggerhead sea turtle game, using information gathered from the book and from additional sources.  If available, using a program like Scratch and MakeyMakey to enhance the game.

Create a book trailer for FOLLOW THE MOON HOME, using a resource like Animoto or iMovie.

Identify key scenes in the book to re-enact. Write a script for each scene, and locate actors, costumes, music, and props for the production.  Video the scenes and share with the class or post to the classroom website or Google Drive. If available, use a green screen to create backgrounds for the scenes.

Create a podcast about sea turtles  as an individual or small group project.  Specific directions for planning, recording, editing, and publishing the podcast are found in Reading Rockets’ Creating podcasts with your students:

Illustrator Meilo So used watercolor, colored ink, and colored pencils to create the illustrations for the book. Using these same materials, create an additional illustration for the book and display in the classroom/library.

Discussion Questions

Describe Viv’s new neighborhood, illustrated on the first two pages of the story. What is the general location of the new town? What clues can you find in the illustration to support your choice?

What does the first sentence, “I always need help finding my way, especially in a new place,” tell you about Viv? Describe her feelings as she helps her mother unpack the truck.

Using visual clues and Mr. J’s welcome to his new student, what conclusions can you draw about this teacher? What subject do you think the kids are studying? Would you enjoy being a student in this classroom? Share your reasons, based on what you enjoy about school.

What word does Mr. J use to describe the class project? Can you think of some examples in your school experience when you felt that way about a project or an assignment? Describe those projects or assignments.

How would you describe the students in the class? What is their reaction to a new student entering their group? What is Viv’s reaction to the group?

Mr J wants the students to identify a problem in their community.  What problems in your community do you think students could tackle as a project?

Look at the map of Viv’s new town. What activities are important to this community? What does the fact that Viv is exploring on her own tell you about her new home?

The writers are having a little fun with one of Viv’s dogs. Which dog’s name is related to the title of and action in the book?

What was Viv’s reaction to the man’s suggestion to fill in the hole that she and her dogs had dug on the beach? How would you have reacted if you had been in her situation?`

What does Viv’s conversation with Clementine tell you about her classmate? How would you describe Clementine’s personality, using clues from the text and the illustration?

Clementine and Viv discover a baby turtle on the beach. How does the mood of the book change on this page?  Describe the different responses of the two girls to finding the turtle on the beach.

Viv has a lot of information on sea turtles to share with her mother on their evening walk on the beach.  How did Viv learn these details about sea turtles?

What does Viv’s keen power of observation lead her to conclude about the baby turtle problem? What information does she use to make her discovery?  Bonus question! Using your knowledge of the scientific method, what would you call Viv’s statement, “The lights in the beach houses are the problem.”

How would you describe Viv’s feelings when she makes the connection between light from the beach houses and the sea turtle direction problem? Have you ever made a scientific discovery? Describe how you felt when you made your own scientific connection.

Viv says that she knows where to go for help in contacting all of the people who use the beach, including people on vacation. Where does she find this help? Use your inference skills to determine the answer.

Describe the class’ response to Viv and Clementine’s report on loggerhead sea turtles, using clues from the text and the illustration. What changes in Viv do you observe in this scene?

List the different sources the kids used to gather information about loggerhead turtles.  Which of these sources would you have found the more helpful? Can you suggest additional sources that the class might have used?

Sharing information effectively is an important part of any campaign.  Describe the students’ various methods of getting the word out about Lights Out for Loggerheads. In what part of the project would you have chosen to be involved? Where could you have best used your skills and interests?

Give examples of how Lights Out for Loggerheads became a community project. Why would businesses be willing to get involved in a project that planned by kids?

The success of the Lights Out for Loggerheads campaign was the result of a lot of hard work and energy spent on the project.  What do you think were possible hurdles that Viv and her classmates had to overcome in the process?

Would you consider Lights Out for Loggerheads to be a successful project? Share details from the book to support your opinion>

What do you think the students gained academically from their participation in the class project?  Can you identify ways the students could have grown personally through their work on the turtle problem?

At the beginning of the book, Viv tells us that she always needs help finding her way, especially in a new place.  Share examples of how Viv not only finds her way, but helps others to find their path, too.

Thinking about the illustrations in the book, what do you think the illustrator is suggesting in the end pages design at the front and back of the book?

Look at the illustrations Meilo So created for this book, using watercolor, colored ink, and colored pencils.  Why is watercolor a good medium to use for illustration in this particular book?

On each double-page spread, at least one phrase is written in a large, colored font that draws the reader’s attention to the words. Do you see a pattern in the words that the illustrator chooses to emphasize throughout the book? Why do you think the illustrator selected these particular phrases?

The reader never sees the face of the student with dark thick braids.  In your opinion, why did the illustrator choose not to reveal this character’s face to the reader?

In his Letter to Young Activists, Philippe Cousteau writes that his experience watching tidal pools as a young boy inspired his life’s work, protecting oceans. Describe how a student’s interest as a child could turn into career for an adult.

What is an activist? Describe a situation when you found yourself being an activist. What action did you take to try to change the situation? What was the outcome of your effort? Describe any change in your view of yourself as a result of your activist experience.

Philippe Cousteau’s grandfather, the famous ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau, taught his grandson “to be curious, to ask questions, and to dream.” Which of those three behaviors do you most enjoy doing? How has this behavior made a difference in your life?

Agree or disagree–  Cousteau says at the end of his letter, “Every day, young people are changing the world, making it better” Defend your position with examples from your experience or observations.

Cousteau explains five steps that kids can follow to make a positive difference in their community.  The fourth step is to “think back” about the project and to consider the successes, the challenges, and the changes to make the next time.  Why is reflection or “thinking back” a valuable step in the process? How could you implement this step in your regular school day?

In the back matter’s note from Cousteau to parents and teachers, he writes, “When kids are empowered to consider problems, gather information, and drive their own activism by what truly interests them, they invent solutions that adults would often never consider.” Describe a time that you came up with a solution to a problem at home or at school that was more effective than the adult’s plan. In the description, include your decision-making process and how you presented your idea to the adult.

Book Talk Teasers:

Can a student really make a difference in the world? Ask students to brainstorm examples of how a student’s action could change a classroom, school or community problem. Then introduce Follow the Moon Home as a book that explores the importance of student participation in problem solving.

Present the Reader’s Theater created for this book. At the conclusion, ask the students to predict the actions that Viv and Clementine might take to address the problem.

From the Texas Bluebonnet Award Master List Resources page, view a book trailer for this book. Share what part of the trailer encourages readers to read this book.

Read Alikes:

Picture books and Sea turtles  

Hunger, Sara Hoagland. Every turtle counts. When seven-year-old Mimi finds a frozen sea turtle on the beach, she refuses to believe that it will die. (NoveList Plus)

Meng, Cece. Always remember. When Old Turtle dies and is taken back by the sea, his friends remember that he was a wonderful teacher and friend who made his world a better place. (NoveList Plus)

Muller, Isabel. The green sea turtle. Follows one green sea turtle for twenty years as it travels around the Indian Ocean and returns to its birthplace on Raine Island to lay eggs that will produce a new generation of sea turtles. (NoveList Plus)

Sayre, April Pulley. Turtle, turtle, watch out! From before the time she hatches until she returns to the same beach to lay eggs of her own, a sea turtle is helped to escape from danger many times by different human hands. (NoveList Plus)

Picture books and Rare and endangered animals

Bunnell, Isabella. Disappearing acts: a search-and-find book of endangered animals. Invites young readers to find the five endangered creatures from around the world hidden amongst the plants and other animals in the illustrations of ten different habitats, and provides information about the featured species. (NoveList Plus)

George, Jean Craighead. Galapagos George. Tells the story of Lonesome George, the giant tortoise who was the last of his species and lived to be one hundred years old in the Galapagos Islands. (NoveList Plus)

Guiberson, Brenda Z. Moon bear. Moon bears, or Asiatic black bears, get their name from the white moon-shaped blaze on their chests. Sadly, there are more moon bears in captivity than in the wild, as the animals are being farmed for their commercially valuable bile. This text pays tribute to the endangered species. (NoveList Plus)

Jenkins, Martin. Can we save the tiger? Highlights the ways human behavior can either threaten or conserve the amazing animals that share our planet. (NoveList Plus)

Animal books and Sea turtles

Davies, Nicola. One tiny turtle. Lyrically chronicles the journey of a tiny, endangered loggerhead turtle as she hatches on the beach, struggles to reach the water’s edge, and survives the ocean’s dangers to one day return and lay her own eggs on the very same beach. (NoveList Plus)    

Guiberson, Brenda Z. Into the sea. Follows the life of a sea turtle from its hatching on a beach, through its years in the sea, and its return to land where it lays its eggs. (NoveList Plus)

Hickman, Pamela M. Turtle rescue: changing the future for endangered wildlife. Explains a range of threats to turtle populations across the globe and what is being done to protect them by the conservation efforts of governments, scientists, conservationists, and turtle lovers. (NoveList Plus)      

Monroe, Mary Alice. Turtle summer: a journal for my daughter.  A scrapbook journal explains the nesting cycle of loggerhead sea turtles and how volunteers help them, and describes the natural life along the southeastern coast, including local shore birds, shells, and the sea turtle hospital. (NoveList Plus)   

Swinburne, Stephen R. Sea turtle scientist. Explores the leatherback sea turtle’s natural history and recounts the extraordinary efforts by scientists trying to save them. (NoveList Plus)    

Young, Karen Romano. Sea turtle rescue: all about sea turtles and how to save them. True adventure stories, photography, and hands-on activities combine in an introduction to the sea turtle and the ongoing efforts of conservationists to protect the species. (NoveList Plus)

Animal books and Rare and endangered animals

Burnham, Cathleen. Tortuga Squad: kids saving sea turtles in Costa Rica.Documents the efforts of a group of Costa Rican children to protect endangered sea turtles who lay their eggs on the beaches of Parismina Island from predators and poachers. (NoveList Plus)   

Hirsch, Rebecca E. Helping endangered animals. Examines endangered species, how human activities have contributed to shrinking numbers, and what is being done to protect animals for the future. (NoveList Plus)

Hoare, Ben. Endangered animals. Looks at threatened wildlife and their fight for survival and discusses what can be done to protect rare animals and their habitats. (NoveList Plus)   

Young, Sarah. Endangered animals: a 3D pocket guide. Provides information on some animals on the endangered species list, including the Siberian tiger, leatherback turtle, and Iberian lynx. (NoveList Plus)   

Biographies and Environmentalists

Jankeliowitch, Anne. Kids who are changing the world. Profiles forty-five children around the world who are helping the environment through fund-raising, public demonstrations, and creating activist art, and includes suggestions on how readers can  get involved. (NoveList Plus)  

Science and Child environmentalists

Wilson, Janet. Our earth: how kids are saving the planet. Profiles twelve children who have had an impact on the environment, from a Canadian girl who gave a major speech to a Malawian boy who brought electricity to his village and a Chinese boy who works to keep endangered animals from the market. (NoveList Plus)  


Brouwer, Sigmund. Justine McKeen vs. the queen of mean. Justine McKeen is back, and she’s on a deadline. With only days left before Earth Day, Justine enlists the help of her classmates to count flower buds, frogs, spiders and ants in their natural habitat as part of an environmental science project. But there’s a species right in her own classroom that she’ll have to tackle first–a class bully (NoveList Plus)           

Child, Lauren. What planet are you from, Clarice Bean? When Clarice has to do a school project on the environment, she and her family become eco-warriors in an attempt to save a tree on their street. (NoveList Plus)

Cole, Sheila. The canyon. Eleven-year-old Zach leads the efforts of his San Diego community in trying to stop a company from developing the local canyon that he loves. (NoveList Plus)

Davies, Nicola. Manatee rescue. When her father successfully harpoons a manatee, leaving its baby orphaned, Manuela vows to rescue the calf and return it to the river, helping change the attitudes of the people in her village in the process. (NoveList Plus)

Hiaasen, Carl. Chomp. When the difficult star of the reality television show “Expedition Survival” disappears while filming an episode in the Florida Everglades using animals from the wildlife refuge run by Wahoo Crane’s family, Wahoo and classmate Tuna Gordon set out to find him while avoiding Tuna’s gun-happy father.    (NoveList Plus)

Hiaasen, Carl. Hoot. Roy, who is new to his small Florida community, becomes involved in another boy’s attempt to save a colony of burrowing owls from a proposed construction site. (NoveList Plus)

Jordan, Rosa. The last wild place. With problems mounting at home and with his best friend, when sixth-grader Chip discovers a family of Florida panthers in the marshy woods behind an abandoned farm, he puts aside his own predicaments and concentrates on finding a safe home for the wild animals.  (NoveList Plus)

Knight, Mary (E. Mary). Saving Wonder. Curley Hines has lost his father, mother, and brother to coal mining, and now he lives with his grandfather in the Appalachian mountains of Wonder Gap, Kentucky–but when the mining company prepares to destroy their mountain he must use the words his grandfather has taught him to save Red Hawk Mountain, even if it means losing the life he loves. (NoveList Plus)

Spinelli, Eileen. Miss Fox’s class goes green. The students in Miss Fox’s class lead their school in making choices to help keep the planet healthy, such as turning off lights when leaving a room, taking shorter showers, and using cloth bags instead of plastic ones. (NoveList)

Wallace Nancy Elizabeth. Recycle every day! When Minna has a school assignment to make a poster about recycling, her entire rabbit family spends the week practicing various kinds of recycling and suggesting ideas for her poster.   (NoveList Plus)

Wolfson, Jill. Home, and other big, fat lies. Eleven-year-old Termite, a foster child with an eye for the beauty of nature and a talent for getting into trouble, takes on the loggers in her new hometown when she tries to save the biggest tree in the forest. (NoveList Plus)

Yolen, Jane. Welcome to the river of grass. Poetic text and evocative paintings bring the Everglades to life, describing the raccoons, alligators, turtles, ospreys, and bobcats that have adapted to life within its swampy shelter. (NoveList Plus)

Book Reviews:

Horn Book                                                                                                                                                            Follow the Moon Home: A Tale of One Idea, Twenty Kids, and a Hundred Sea Turtles by Philippe Cousteau and Deborah Hopkinson; illus. by Meilo So.  Primary.    Chronicle    48 pp. 4/16   978-1-4521-1241-1    $16.99

When Viv moves with her family to one of the South Carolina barrier islands—beautifully evoked in So’s luscious watercolors of rainbow-hued houses, clear blue ocean, and waving palmetto trees—she muses, “I always need help finding my way, especially in a new place.” Encouraged to take on a community action project (clearly outlined in five steps: Identify, Plan, Take Action, Reflect, and Tell Your Story) by her summer-school teacher, Viv begins to think about her surroundings but keeps getting lost on her bike rides around town. She isn’t the only inhabitant of the island who loses her way: Viv lives near a loggerhead turtle sanctuary, and many young turtles die on the beach as they are leaving their nests. Research reveals the problems: holes left open on the beach; sandcastles creating barriers to the sea; and, worst of all, the bright lights of vacationers’ houses, which lead the young turtles away from their ocean home. Viv and her classmates decide to concentrate their actions on asking beachfront visitors to turn off their lights, following the community action steps with great success. The strong narrative culminates on a moonlit night with a turtle “boil,” or mass hatching, reverently depicted through quiet shades of blue and brown as the hatchlings follow the natural light to the sea. Appended with authors’ notes about loggerheads and community activism, as well as with relevant websites. BETTY CARTER.   From the July/August 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.  Reprinted from The Horn Book Magazine by permission of The Horn Book, Inc.,

School Library Journal

Follow the Moon Home: A Tale of One Idea, Twenty Kids,  and a Hundred Sea Turtles.

K-Gr 3-The authors deliver an eloquent environmental message while demonstrating how kids can change the world through teamwork and perseverance. When Vivienne moves into her new home by the sea, she is nervous about finding her way. Her teacher and her classmates welcome her as they jump into an exciting class project-the students are looking for a problem to solve. After school at the beach, Vivienne and her new friend, Clementine, discover that the baby loggerhead sea turtles that are about to hatch may need help making it down to the ocean. The newborn turtles instinctively move toward the strongest light they see, and the brightly lit beach houses could point them in the wrong direction. Vivienne is determined to help the tiny creatures. The students in Mr. J.’s class begin working on the project by gathering information. How will they convince the homeowners along the shoreline to turn off their lights? The children soon involve the entire town as they launch their Lights Out for Loggerheads campaign. By showing the multiple channels that the students work through to raise awareness (posters, fliers, bake sales, a town meeting, the local newspaper, and the Internet), the authors expose readers to accessible, affordable ways to raise issue awareness in communities. So’s lovely and bright watercolor illustrations chronicle each stage of the children’s cause. The artist deftly captures the energy and enthusiasm in the classroom and the tranquility of the shoreline. The shadowy scene on the darkened beach as the turtles emerge from their nests is particularly atmospheric. VERDICT This collaboration provides an excellent example of how kids can make a difference through careful research, critical thinking, and problem-solving. Pair it with the equally inspiring Nights of the Pufflings by Bruce McMillan.-Linda L. Walkins, Saint Joseph Preparatory High School, Boston © Copyright 2016. Reprinted with permission from School Library Journal,  Copyright 2016.