The plight of turtles in the Bundaberg Region and beyond is the inspiration for author and illustrator Cavin Staff’s children’s book ‘Tiny Turtle Tim’.
The book, Cavin's first written for children, was launched at a recent Night of 1000 Drawings fundraising event at the Windmill Café, Bargara and sold out its initial run of 250 copies within two weeks, surprising its creator.
“I never imagined that happening, from having 250 books sitting in my garage to selling them all so quickly,” Cavin said, confirming that a second batch of 250 were now available for purchase.
Cavin said the ‘Tiny Turtle Tim’ storyline, written in verse, was centred on the difficulties faced by the turtle population.
“The book is about respect and sustainability because, if we encroach on nature, and natural reserves are getting smaller and smaller, then there are unintended consequences,” Cavin said.
“The main message of the book is exemplified right at the end where it reads that if we don’t speak with nature and its wonders, the coral reef cries.”
The Zimbabwean-born artist said the story, which he labels a sea ballad, arose from his imagining what it would be like for a baby turtle, newly hatched at Mon Repos, trying to overcome the odds to reach adulthood.
He said the theme will continue in the sequel which Cavin has already written but is still completing the artwork.
“We see the turtles on the reef when they’re little adults, they’ve grown,” Cavin said.
“But how does that little turtle survive from being washed out to the ocean and get to the size where he can push out into the big ocean? I don’t think anyone really knows.”
An academic lead, Faculty of Medicine at the University of Queensland Rural Clinical School at Bundaberg Hospital and a retired orthopaedic surgeon, Cavin enjoyed indulging his love of watercolour painting in creating the book.
“It has been my outlet because surgery and medicine are very left-brain oriented and, to have a balance, I’ve found solace and pleasure in painting,” Cavin said.
“I’ve had quite a few exhibitions and they’ve always done very well.”
Cavin said he had up to five books of Tiny Turtle Tim adventures planned, including his adoption by a duck and meeting with his brother Tiny Turtle Tom, and hoped children would embrace the stories as well as the environmental messages they contained.
Given the rapidity with which his first book cleared his garage, Cavin, who is seeking a publisher, may receive his wish.
Cavin thanked his daughter Nicky Staff whose Night of 1000 Drawings event had proved a perfect launch for Tiny Turtle Tim.