Toby The Turtle?
Michelle Morgan met with Sydneymum last week over coffee to talk about her journey from an IT Project manager to a children’s book writer and illustrator.
Michelle, a native Queenslander, is now a Maroubra local who has taken her love of the water, beachside living and diving and transformed it into a children’s tale about sea life and the underwater world they inhabit. She has always had a passion for writing and illustrating, reviewing music in her heydey in Brisbane as well as a successful travel blog.
SM: Tell us about your book?
MM: Toby the Turtle lives a happy life under the sea, in a coral reef with his friends. Their happy playful life is in jeopardy when Toby gets sick. All his friends must come together and work out how to save him, the most loved creature in the sea. Toby Turtle follows the adventure of this merry underwater crew and how our actions can endanger the underwater.
His crew include, among other marine life, Sandy the Seahorse and Paul the Pufferfish.
SM: With that said, why did you choose to tell this story?
MM: I have always had a passion for water, diving and marine life. I live by the beach. For years, I have dived world-wide and every time, without fail, I get pulled into this underwater world. It is so magical and mesmerising, and yet as humans, we forget about it. It’s easy to forget there is a whole other world under the sea, humans tend to go forth and conquer without considering the impact of their actions. I wanted to remind people about it.
SM: What message do you want to get out there?
MM: Let’s respect the oceans for the life source they are. As a kid at school, I always loved the arts but was pushed into IT at the time. Working in IT, I see the juxtaposition between man-made technology, it’s the impact on our lives and the necessity to have time out from it, go back to life’s simple pleasures, like swimming in the ocean. But what if that ocean is being destroyed by humans? Every time I dive, I see more and more plastic waste, I read somewhere the other day, that by 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the sea if we continue to live the way we do.
SM: Why a children’s tale and not an another format?
MM: I have had many a discussion with friends over the years, whose children have inspired me to write a book targeted at them. Kids have a fantastic view on the world and are genuinely concerned about things, including marine life and the environment. So in between projects, I reignited my passion for writing and illustrating and Toby the Turtle took a day or so to write. It just flowed and I thought ‘what if children are inspired by this story and as they get older take this inspiration and make fundamental contributions to the environment’…
SM: The illustrations are beautiful…
MM: Thank you, I have always drawn and I loved the idea of going back to basics and the tradition of illustrating by hand – creating without a machine and technology. The illustrations took me about 6-8 months to complete, the story was quicker… about a day and a half. When I was thinking about the story and getting the message across, I thought of publishing, not just a book in English, but also one in Spanish and Mandarin, enhancing children’s learning. They are written in both languages with English subtitles. Both languages are spoken the world wide in terms of population numbers after English.
And I am so proud because I chose to not only write the book and hand draw the illustrations, I also chose to self-publish. It has been an amazing journey!
The story is a gentle way of getting parents and kids alike to understand how important, the ocean and ecosystems, are to the balance of the world, and it’s a fine balance that can easily be tipped against us if we do not change certain habits. It opens children’s eyes and mind to another world through these amazing characters and their kinship and adventures.
SM: So, where can we buy your book?
MM: At the moment all 3 versions are available on Fishpond and Amazon. The North End Cafe here in Maroubra also has some copies for purchase. There is the e-book on its way! Due out in October, pending technology is my friend!
A second story is on it’s way too…a new adventure for Toby and his underwater crew, something to do with coral bleaching.
Sydneymum can’t wait! It truly is a beautiful story book.
Here are the links:
Michelle’s website – Snoop Creative
Books available from: