Lonesome George
The Giant Tortoise









































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Conserving Nature and Galapagos Tortoises

Winner of the 2004 Giverny Book Award forBest Science Children's Book, the book tells us about Lonesome George, the last living Pinta Island giant tortoise.

The island was thought for decades to have no giant tortoises left at all, until game wardens who were attempting to rid the island of goats stumbled across George. To protect George, the wardens placed him into a hammock-type carrier and took him to Santa Cruz Island.

There, at the Charles Darwin Research Station, he was placed into a large and pleasant exhibit pen, cared for well, and the world's news media dubbed him "the loneliest creature on Earth."   Follow his story and learn how conserving the                                                                    Galapagos and the giant tortoises go hand in hand.



Winner 2004 Giverny Award for Best Children's Science Picture Book


Reviews of Lonesome George The Giant Tortoise

What makes this book "work" visually?   The book's end papers show a set of carefully designed and colored maps that zoom-in on the Galapagos Islands (which belong to Ecuador in South America) to show where the story takes place. Most of the pages are full-page spreads with sparse text, ideal for children's visual-verbal cognition. There are lots of close-up views to personalize the story and highlight anatomical features. The close-up of George eating an Opuntia cactus pad shows him swallowing it, sharp spines and all! Later we learn that's how he gets his fresh water when there are no rain puddles present.  These two story-tellers have made this tortoise's life exciting and personal. They have taught us some principles of plant disturbance ecology, plant-animal interactions, introduction of non-native species, wildlife management, animal behavior, adaptation, animal locomotion, thermoregulation, plant and animal conservation, and extinction. It also lays the groundwork for the child's later need to understand reproductive genetics. The last sentence is a sentence of hope: "With luck, George won't be lonesome anymore."   The book ends with a fact page about the Galapagos giant tortoises, and it offers two web sites that the reader can visit to learn more about George and the giant tortoises ... This book helps to insure that they will.   Jacobs and Cassels have made an important contribution to children's literature, visual-verbal communication, and to biology education with this book. This is a book that children will want to read and look at again and again."   --2004 Giverny Book Award

"In this poignant, true account, Jacobs introduces a saddleback tortoise, George, who beat long odds to survve as possibly the last memeber of the distinctive species of tortoise found only on the Galapagos island of Pintas . Its ecology devastated by the descendants of goats brought in by fishermen, Pintas had been thought for decades to have no tortoises left until game wardens trying to clear the island of its interlopers discovered George. The tortoise now lives in a large compound on Santa Cruz Island , and the search is on so far without success for a compatible female. In painted illustrations Cassels depicts George from various angles, plodding about rocky desert landcscapes with wrinkled, appealing dignity. The author caps her simply written account with further resources for children who want to know more about George, or about the Galapagos in general." Booklist

"Jacobs offers a story based on the true story of George, a giant land tortoise from
Pinta Island in the Galapagos. George spends his day eating spiny cactus, snoozing to avoid the hot sun, and searching for a mate. Unfortunately, the island, once a haven for these slow-moving reptiles, has become overrun with wild goats that eat everything, stripping the island bare; George is the only remaining tortoise. Wardens come to shoot the goats and upon finding George, capture him, taking him to a preserve, where he becomes an instant celebrity. Zoos around the world continue to search for a female tortoise from Pinta. An afterword provides a capsule history of saddleback tortoises and an explanation of how people and alien animals destroy fragile habitats. The illustrator uses the double-page layout to good advantage and a soft-colored palette of green, gold, and tan to depict the austere island landscape. An appealing picture book introduction to ecology and an unusual animal." Kirkus Reviews

"George, a giant tortoise, lives on
Pinta Island in the Galapagos and spends his days foraging for food, finding shelter, and, most importantly, searching for a mate. When a fisherman brings a few goats to the island to ensure a supply of fresh meat, they soon overwhelm the habitat and consume the plants that tortoises need to survive. Before long, George is the only one of his kind left on Pinta. Park wardens discover his presence and relocate him to the Charles Darwin Research Station on nearby Santa Cruz . To date, George has been unwilling to mate with females from other islands, and scientists have not yet been successful in locating a female Pinta tortoise in a zoo, but the search continues. Using short sentences and simple vocabulary, Jacobs explains the potentially devastating effects of introducing nonindigenous animals into a habitat. Realistic, full-spread paintings and a text that flows like a story give this offering the look and tone of a picture book. Additional details about Galapagos tortoises and contact information for resource organizations are included. An attractive addition with an important message." School Library Journal