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Differences Between Turtles and Tortoises? Many! By Elaine A. Powers, Author

A children's book cover, green with a tortoise standing, coming out of a circle, finger pointed, saying Don't Call Me Turtle

My first book in the Don’t Series explores the differences between turtles and tortoises. I tell everyone that my Red-foot tortoise asked me to write the book. I adopted her from another New Jersey family when I lived back East. That in itself is a story. We were both using the Mid-Atlantic Turtle & Tortoise Society to place or adopt. Eventually, someone figured out it would be easier for me to adopt directly from the family, instead of both of us making trips to Maryland. As a result, I ended up with a truly wonderful tortoise named Myrtle. Officially her name was Hebe Myrtle, but she really is a Myrtle.

Since Myrtle free roams in my home and was a companion for my elderly mother, she was always introduced to guests. When I said her name was Myrtle, people would inevitably say, “Oh, Myrtle the turtle.” No–she is Myrtle the tortoise. Consequently, the book about the differences between turtles and tortoises had to be written. Her inspiration resulted in a very engaging book, if I do say so myself. (Well, I’m going by fan mail, too.)

People think they know the differences between turtles and tortoises, but few do. It’s not simply that turtles live in water. Just ask my Desert Box Turtle, Ela. Odds are she’ll never see a body of water, or even flowing water. However, all turtles have the ability to swim. This swimming capability is reflected in the shell and limb structures.

Despite the similarities in their shelled bodies, there are behavioral differences between turtles and tortoises, too.

I don’t want to give away the many differences here, because I know you will love learning all about them them by reading Don’t Call Me Turtle to your little one. It’s written in rhyme—so you both can repeat what you’ve learned with some flair!

You can also explore the life-cycles and traits of turtles and tortoises in Lyric Power Publishing’s fun and educational workbooks. We really enjoy making science fun around here!

A light blue book cover with images of freshwater turtle and green sea turtle

a yellow and green book cover with an image of a desert tortoise

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Trevor the Turtle has a Crush on Myrtle the Tortoise by Elaine A. Powers, Author

Trevor is a male Eastern box turtle and Myrtle is a female red-foot tortoise. Myrtle is at least four times bigger than Trevor. Being a tortoise, she has a dense shell, while Trevor’s—though domed—is very lightweight. Trevor has a crush on Myrtle: She’s older, gorgeous, interested in what’s going on around her and interesting.

A box turtle approaches a red-foot tortoise, on a tile floor
Trevor, a box turtle, approaches his crush, Myrtle, a tortoise.

Trevor may be small, but he is determined. He seeks Myrtle as his mate. Myrtle, of course, cannot be bothered. He’s a small box turtle, for Pete’s sake! Trevor apparently believes that persistence will pay off and likes to follow her closely. When he gets too close, Myrtle usually wanders off, but if Trevor really annoys her, she turns around and flips him onto his back. And there he rocks with his flailing legs.

A red-foot tortoise faces an Eastern box turtle, on a tile floor.
“Back off, Trevor!” Myrtle says.

Now, Myrtle could just walk away, allowing Trevor to right himself, but she doesn’t. She enjoys spinning Trevor around and around, like he is a top!

A red-foot tortoise has flipped an Eastern box turtle onto his back. Then she spins him.
“I warned you, Trevor!”

This slows Trevor down for a while—but, as we all know, the heart wants what the heart wants. 😊

For supplemental information about turtles and tortoises, please see our 23-47 page Workbooks for children, grades Pre-K through 4th.

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Elaine A. Powers and Myrtle–NOT a Turtle!

Myrtle, a TORTOISE, lives with Elaine and when Myrtle grew tired of everyone calling her Myrtle the Turtle, one day she asked Elaine to write a book about the differences between tortoises and turtles. Of course, Elaine said yes. (She and Myrtle are best buds.) Here Elaine is pictured reading Myrtle’s book TO Myrtle.

It turned out it’s not just tortoises who love the book–kids do, too. Don’t Call Me Turtle! has fans across America, with little ones telling grownups, “DON’T call him turtle! He’s a TORTOISE!”

A woman reading a book about tortoises to a tortoise.
Elaine A. Powers and Myrtle–NOT a turtle, but a tortoise.

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A Review of DON’T CALL ME TURTLE

A book cover with a tortoise coming out of the cover, exclaiming, "Don't Call Me Turtle."
Tortoises and turtles may look alike, but they are VERY different! This fun illustrated book teaches the differences between these two creatures, and explains a bit about the habits and preferences of the tortoise. “A lesson sure to fascinate junior naturalists and animal lovers.” AZ Daily Star

By Helen Woodhams of Don’t Call Me Turtle! in the Arizona Daily Star:
“To the casual observer, turtles and tortoises appear to share so many similarities that we often use the names “turtle” and “tortoise” interchangeably. But the fact is that they couldn’t be more different, says Elaine Powers, whose charming picture book employs clever rhymes and colorful illustrations to demonstrate why the two should never be confused. To begin with, while some turtles were built to paddle around in the water, she says, tortoises were not – throw a tortoise in the water, and he’ll drown. And that’s just the beginning of her lesson about these special — and very distinctive — reptiles, a lesson sure to fascinate junior naturalists and animal lovers.”