Today I’m delighted to have picture book author Mary Wagley Copp as my guest sharing five fun facts about her latest picture book YOSHI’S BIG SWIM: ONE TURTLE’S EPIC JOURNEY HOME, illustrated by Kaja Kajfež and published by Capstone. Here’s the official description per the publisher’s website:
“Yoshi’s Big Swim chronicles the impressive true story of Yoshi, a loggerhead turtle who was rescued by fishermen, then rehabilitated and cared for by scientists for many years. The scientists adored her, and Yoshi was happy in her aquarium home. But then, many years later, Yoshi let them know that it was time for her to move on. Would Yoshi be safe? Would she know what to do? After lots of preparation—and plenty of friendly back scratches for Yoshi—the determined loggerhead set off on her journey. Discover an amazing story celebrating teamwork, science, and an animal hero who swam more than 22,000 miles to her true home—the longest journey of any animal ever tracked. In addition to being awe-inspiring, Yoshi’s story underlines the importance of wildlife conservation and the power of one animal to unite people around the world for a common cause.“
Beautifully crafted, both in word and illustration, this book is a wonderful addition to any school, town, or home library. Now enjoy this special post as Mary shares five fun facts about the book and writing. Thank you, Mary!
Fun Fact #1:
Like Yoshi, I love to swim! My mother used to recount the first time I saw a pool, I leaped in – no floaties, no life preserver – I just jumped! I couldn’t swim (I think I was about 2 ½ years old) but that didn’t stop me! Of course, I was quickly rescued feet first. My mother said I coughed up some water but wanted to jump in again! And, to this day, if I see water I usually jump in! I love to swim! I think that is one reason I was so excited to learn about Yoshi, the amazing loggerhead turtle who swam 22,000 miles to her natal beach!
Here I am swimming across Buzzards Bay:
Fun Fact #2:
After I read many articles about Yoshi and watched television clips about her, I reached out to the aquarium where she was cared for for 20 years. I was able to interview the director – which was such an honor for me. I had seen her on TV, listened to her on podcasts and here I was talking to her about her most famous resident – Yoshi! She reaffirmed the fact that Yoshi was a magnificent turtle but also that there was such a large community of people who loved her and cared for her – throughout her life.
Fun Fact #3:
I have been working and re-working some picture manuscripts for a few years. I love revising and I love the challenge of really getting a story the best it can be. It is such a joyful feeling to polish a story and push ‘send’ in hopes that it turns into a book. However, unlike the other manuscript, YOSHI’S BIG SWIM seemed to almost write itself! After the bulk of research, I wrote the entire manuscript in a day and then spent a few weeks pondering it, changing some words and deleting an extraneous scene – or two. But, really, Yoshi told her own story and I just typed away. It was a very cool experience – one that is very atypical for me as a writer!
Fun Fact #4:
I now follow a lot of turtles online! They have satellite tags affixed to their shells so interested people around the world can track their migrations. It is fascinating AND you can get very attached to these wonderful creatures as you witness their journeys.
Fun Fact #5:
Every spring, I watch nesting peregrine falcons through my local Audubon Society’s webcam that is placed on an office building where the pair lives. I love wacthing their journey as parents. From the time the pair makes their nest until the last fledgling leaves, I am hooked! I have seen the parents bring back a lot of birds, which is hard to watch – but it is also so neat to see the hatchlings grow, learn from their parents and then learn to fly. Animals are amazing!!
BIO: Mary graduated from Smith College and earned an MPH from UNC – Chapel Hill. Her career has been primarily focused on strengthening non-profit, social justice organizations – both as a management consultant as well as an executive director. Mary also spent several years in the filmmaking world. For one documentary, Mary and her team followed a family in an Ethiopian refugee camp to their new home in Providence, RI. This film – and the people featured – was the inspiration for her debut picture book, Wherever I Go (Atheneum/S&S, 2020), illustrated by Munir D. Mohammed. Mary is also author of the nonfiction picture book, Yoshi’s Big Swim: One Turtle’s Epic journey Home, illustrated by Kaja Kajfez (Capstone, 2023). Yoshi is a record-breaking magnificent creature and her long journey back to her natal beach.As well as writing for children, Mary teaches ESL to newcomers in her area. Mary loves to swim and garden. She lives in Westport, MA with her husband, Allyn. They have 3 grown children.
Connect with Mary on the web: marywagleycopp.com
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