Caroline, The Painted Turtle: The Journey Begins by Jeanne McIntosh Rietzke Recognized as a Finalist in International Book Awards Contest

Jeanne McIntosh Rietzke’s Caroline, The Painted Turtle: The Journey Begins is recognized for its outstanding writing, design and overall market appeal out of thousands of books submitted into the Book Excellence Awards.

Jeanne McIntosh Rietzke is the multiple award-winning author and illustrator of Caroline, The Painted Turtle: The Journey Begins and Caroline, The Painted Turtle: Life in Key West, a series of empowering children’s picture books that promote diversity, inclusion, self-awareness and friendship.

Originally from Charleston, SC, Jeanne graduated from The University of South Carolina, Columbia, with a degree in Fine Art. Since 1992, she has been a professional watercolor artist and her colorful, coastal and marine themed paintings have sold nationally and internationally. Her work has also won numerous awards, been accepted into dozens of juried shows, and featured in national and international publications.

Jeanne now makes her home in Wilmington, NC, with her husband Jacques and their six cats.

This one-on-one interview shares Jeanne’s background and experience in writing the first book in the series, Caroline, The Painted Turtle: The Journey Begins.

Tell us about Caroline, The Painted Turtle: The Journey Begins.

Caroline, The Painted Turtle: The Journey Begins follows Caroline, a baby green sea turtle, as she begins her life’s journey. Her adventures lead her from Carolina Beach, North Carolina to Key West, Florida. Along the way, she meets many colorful creatures who share important life lessons. From Banban, the wise blue fish, who tells Caroline to stay curious, be patient and ask questions; to Geeter, a young eel who shows her how to camouflage with her surroundings; to Solomon, a smart octopus who tells her that the lessons she learns from other sea creatures is what changes her for the better; to Jimmy, the kind manatee who explains that anger is a waste and to let your differences keep educating you—the book is designed to teach children to accept that everyone is different, and that being different is not only okay, but absolutely wonderful!

As Caroline learns from each creature, her shell starts to change color, with every new color symbolizing new knowledge. In these turbulent times, the recurring theme of staying curious, trusting your instincts, and appreciating our differences is a message that both young readers and adults can benefit from.

What inspired you to write Caroline, The Painted Turtle: The Journey Begins?

Caroline, The Painted Turtle: The Journey Begins was inspired by recent global events and my overall concern for how adults are acting worldwide. As it turned out, my publication date was the day that Russia invaded Ukraine.

Humans are forgetting that our differences are what make us such an incredible species, so I’m hoping that through Caroline, the next generation will have more kindness and compassion for one another.

How did you feel when you found out you received a Book Excellence Award?

I was thrilled! As my first book, this was wonderful validation of the book’s high quality and I am looking forward to the sales and exposure the award will bring.

How did your background and experience influence your writing?

I believe being creative is a wide band of energy that can lead a human to express an unseen vision. Your art should be your truth, no matter what that is for you.

As a fine artist by trade, I have been painting marine life for over 30 years. My subject matter may be anything in nature, but sea turtles have always been my passion and a main theme of my art.

When a friend mentioned that I should illustrate children’s books, I decided to write my own story too. Both of my parents were writers and I have always been an avid reader.

It took some work, but I am proud and grateful for what I have created and the positive impact my work is having on readers around the world.

What is one message you would like readers to remember?

Just because someone looks different, feels different or speaks differently, that doesn’t make them wrong. They’re just different!

Traveling can help open your eyes to why we’re different, and teach you new things about yourself and others.

In the end, our differences should be shared and celebrated.

Purchasing the Book

Caroline, The Painted Turtle: The Journey Begins has received positive reviews from well-known literary organizations, authors, and reviewers around the world. Book Excellence writes, “A charming story full of color, delightful sea creatures, and wisdom through the ages.” In addition, reviewer Jodi Bunting writes, “A great story, with wonderful life lessons on adventure, curiosity, acceptance & growth…basically, how we all learn from each other and how it molds us personally…the artwork and colors were amazing!

The book is available for sale on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Etsy, Books-a-Million, Walmart and other online bookstores. Readers are encouraged to purchase their copy today:

Readers, parents, educators and book clubs are encouraged to visit Jeanne’s website to purchase a copy of the book and receive updates on author visits and new book releases: You can also find Jeanne on Facebook and Instagram.

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