Review of Yoshi, Sea Turtle Genius: A True Story About an Amazing Swimmer

Yoshi, Sea Turtle Genius: A True Story About an Amazing SwimmerYoshi, Sea Turtle Genius: A True Story About an Amazing Swimmer
by Lynne Cox; illus. by Richard Jones
Primary    Schwartz/Random    40 pp.
1/23    9780593425688    $18.99
Library ed.  9780593425695    $21.99
e-book ed.  9780593425701    $11.99

When Yoshi, a real-life loggerhead turtle, hatches, she immediately crawls to the Indian Ocean and begins swimming out to sea. After five nomadic years, she becomes entangled in a fishing net (a sequence of events Jones depicts as a timeline of circles, each spotlighting her increasing distress). Unable to breathe, she begins an arduous journey to the surface, dramatically illustrated in a full-bleed, double-page watercolor spread showing Yoshi alone in the sea hauling a mass of fishing net behind her. A fisherman rescues her, eventually taking her to Cape Town’s Two Oceans Aquarium, where she lives for twenty years. When Yoshi reaches sexual maturity, the aquarists initiate a program of reintroducing her into the wild; they finally do so, equipping her with a satellite tracker. To the scientists’ surprise, she swims up the western coast of Africa, turns around, heads south, and returns to her heretofore unknown native beach in Australia, where she mates and deposits her eggs on the very shore where she originally hatched—a 22,998-mile journey. There’s much to discuss about the interplay of instinct, perseverance, and luck in this fine book. An author’s note describes Cox’s inspiration—“I am intrigued by Yoshi’s story because I too am a long-distance swimmer. I was the first person to swim around the rough waters surrounding the Cape of Good Hope, Africa”—and separates fact from supposition; a suggested website documents Yoshi’s release.

From the March/April 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Betty Carter
Betty Carter, an independent consultant, is professor emerita of children’s and young adult literature at Texas Woman’s University.

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