It was such a joy to attend the Massachusetts Book Awards ceremony at the Statehouse last week, where Trouble at Turtle Pond was honored as a 2023 “Must Read” in the middle grade / young adult category! This means the book was long listed for the award, and copies will live in the Statehouse library! My YA novel Blue Voyage was similarly honored back in 2016, so this is my second visit there for this event . . . but it felt extra special because of the strong ties this particular story has to Massachusetts. Even though my setting, a small town called Marsh Hollow, is fictitious, it’s very closely modeled after Concord, Acton, Belmont, Lowell, and other towns in my area. It’s inspired by the very real work that turtle helpers do to ensure the longevity of the endangered Blanding’s turtles and other types of turtles. These incredible turtle helpers can be found in Zoo New England’s HATCH program, which inspired the book, and in schools and neighborhoods throughout Massachusetts. I’m so grateful to the Massachusetts Book Awards committee for honoring this book and raising the visibility of threatened turtles and those who help them.

We got to hear wonderful speeches by the award winners and honorees. We also heard from some of our state Representatives who are passionate about protecting our freedom to read, and who are proposing legislation right now that would prevent book bans in public libraries. It was truly an honor just to be in the room. I felt very proud of Massachusetts and our strong book community!