The Tender Turtle
By Amy Denise Silvester
Released Jan. 7, 2017
Book release party: 2-4 p.m. Feb. 25 at Crates Coffee House, 1472 S Lapeer Road, with a reading at 3 p.m. Books will be available to purchase on site.
Books are also available at:
Tender is the turtle, but fierce the dream
By Jim Newell
“Is this a dream worth pursuing, or should I go back to college?”
Fateful words. The words Amy Silvester asked herself before plunging into her first children’s book, The Tender Turtle, the first book in what she plans as a series of colorful characters exploring family and life issues.
“Toby the Tender Turtle is about a little brother, Toby, who is significantly younger than his siblings. He misses his older brother, Billy, and cannot wait to visit him at Turtledome University. He is worried about his big brother. So, ensues a family road trip for a visit. Concluding with a wonderful reunion which tenderly touches one’s heart,” she said.
“This is the first story in a series that I hope blossoms and grows,” said Silvester, who has already scheduled speaking engagements in schools. “The book has good life experiences written in a positive way.”
When Amy and her husband, Don, blended their families they had five kids (three sons and two daughters) and 10 animals, which she draws upon for her characters and storylines.
“Toby is from a blended family.” While Silvester hints at this in the first two books, it’s not until the third book, which she’s working on getting ready for publication, that she explicitly states it in a way in which children can relate.
“It is a reality and it does happen in life and kids need to adjust. And thank god ours did,” said Silvester, adding her home could be “Crazy Land” for a while. ”People don’t talk about how difficult it is.”
Love is the paramount emotion in her books and she says Liam is the inspiration for Toby the Turtle. “I really believe he’s (Liam) a blessing. He helped pull our family together,” Silvester said. “Children, they don’t know hate, they’re so loving when they’re young.”
Love, kindness and family bonds are some of the important themes Silvester explores in her stories. “I think if we can instill that at an early age in children they will grow and be better for it.”
Silvester said she wanted the books to be relatable to young children, the experiences they may face and questions they pose and how they can cope with them. “We’re all different as human beings.”
Most of the books should be in the 12-20 pages range. “They’re nice nighttime stories,” Silvester said. “All these stories have been brewing (inside) and I’ve just kind of purged them out.”
For Silvester, The Tender Turtle is a dream come to fruition.
“I tell all the kids: Find what you love to do, find a passion for it and the money will come. Especially when you to get to the point in your life when your kids are getting older. They have their own agendas and own aspirations and you see that and encourage them. I try to tell my kids, ‘Don’t’ be afraid, do it now. You have to go after your dreams and make them real.”
The book is also a family affair: her husband helps with editing and design; her daughter built her website; and all the children serve as inspiration and support.
Silvester spent 20 years working with children, teaching and coaching swimming. Before that she spent nine years in advertising.
Her experiences teaching many different children and families, as well as being a mother, have given her a wealth of knowledge to draw upon.
“It’s helped me create all the different kinds of characters,” she said. “All of these characters are based upon people.”
The Playful Panda, the Gracious Gorilla and the Dutiful Dog are just some of the characters she’s developing: “The characters are good role models for kids, and they’re all different.”
The Playful Panda, for example, is based on a friend’s daughter who has cancer. “She’s a walking, loving miracle.”
Silvester has already received feedback from friends – some of whom she went to grade school with reached out to her after seeing people sharing her book on Facebook – who have posted videos of their children’s reactions to the book.
“And I tear up. But it’s exciting,” she said. “The outpouring of support from people, it’s been really amazing.”
Silvester’s next book is Toby The Tender Turtle Needs Glasses.