MAKANA is a Gift ~ New Children’s Book about a Little Green Sea Turtle : 2022 BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARD

Recipient of 2022 BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARD from Creative Child Magazine in the category of “Nature and Conservation.”


One bright morning a little green sea turtle basks on the surface of Turtle Cove, where he arrived the night before. He hatched from a nest on a shore hundreds of miles away, and has spent the first six years of his life swimming through the ocean. Here in Turtle Cove he meets the inhabitants—a wise elder turtle, Kato, and other sea creatures. He admires the unique features of an octopus and starfish, and wishes he could swim with a school of fish. He observes the gulls and terns flying freely overhead, and begins to question his identity. 

Makana is a Gift is the story of a young sea turtle’s quest to understand his unique purpose, who and why he is, while waiting to be given his name. One morning while hungry for breakfast, he mistakes a plastic bag for a jellyfish, takes a bite as many sea turtles do, and must seek help to survive this too common, life-threatening experience. 

In the end, he understands that all creatures are needed to help and care for each other; he too has a unique and essential purpose; that life is a gift, and so is he. In Hawaiian, Makana means gift, and thus he receives his name. 

Vibrant, like-like watercolor illustrations by Alexis Cantu depict the undersea world and its precious inhabitants. A Discussion & Activities Guide and Resources are included. Children will learn about the biological beginnings of a sea turtle’s life as well as their ancient legacy, significance and symbolism, and the importance of their ecological protection. Ages 4 ~ 8. Available in English only and a bilingual Spanish-English version. Published by


An undersea fable of self-discovery, punctuated by the tragedy of ocean plastic pollution, all set against a backdrop of beloved ocean creatures rendered in extraordinary watery splendor. From the tiniest sea turtle to the sage octopus, Makana is a Gift connects readers to our ocean world, and ourselves. What a wonderful book!” ~ Mary J. Donohue, Ph.D., Marine Biologist and Ocean Plastics Expert, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa


“A beautiful book written in a challenging time, when plastic pollution is becoming one of the biggest threats to the future of our marine life. Makana is a Gift reminds readers that life is precious and to never give up hope!” ~ Laura Exley, President and Founder, COPROT Tortugas de Osa


“Weaving together beautiful storytelling, art, and emotion with ecology and nature, Makana is a Gift follows the journey of a young green sea turtle as he navigates his life’s challenges and in the process learns who he is and his role in the world. This is a special and heartfelt coming-of-age story for young readers, with a conservation call-to-action that fosters care, compassion, and concern for ourselves and those around us—human and nonhuman—and the Earth we inhabit together.” — Erica Cirino, author of Thicker Than Water: The Quest for Solutions to the Plastic Crisis


“A beautiful mix of magical storytelling and fascinating facts, this book conveys the meaningful message that true belonging lies in honoring who you are.” ~ Elisa Boxer, Emmy-winning journalist and author of One Turtle’s Last Straw: The Real-Life Rescue That Sparked a Sea Change