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Story Geek Book Club: Turtle Boy by M. Wolkenstein ELA, English Language Arts

Fans of Auggie in Wonder will enjoy Turtle Boy by M. Wolkenstein. A 7th grade boy who's spent his life in a shell learns the importance of taking a chance. Winner of Jewish Libraries Award, #1 Children's Buddhism Books on Amazon
Kiera Astrid
85 total reviews for this teacher
4 reviews for this class
Completed by 6 learners
year olds
learners per class


Charged upfront
$10 per class
Meets 1x per week
Over 6 weeks
55 minutes per class
Don't see a time that works for you?


Class Experience

My background includes working as a Youth Services Librarian and Medical Librarian as well as independently creating the first library for a palliative care unit in a large hospital meeting with patients, patients' family and friends, donors, and staff to better understand their needs. This project required researching the many kinds of grief and selecting resources for children, teens, and parents either experiencing grief or terminal illness in the family. 

I live with a rare disease that compromises my vertebral, carotid, and renal arteries and resulted in a vertebral dissection with a blood clot in 2017. My disease is not terminal, though comes with some restrictions and risks I've learned how to discuss with my young son. I don't discuss my medical condition with students on Outschool. I consider myself otherwise very healthy. 

As a writer, in 2019 I was invited to provide the introduction for a collection of essays published by Anvil Press featuring authors writing about terminal illness or near-death experiences without the usual platitudes. 
In addition to the Outschool classroom, this class uses:
55 minutes per week in class, and an estimated 1 - 2 hours per week outside of class.
This beautiful, funny, and uplifting story contains topics/themes such as serious childhood illness, parental death, and grief. 

These topics are artfully and sensitively handled without sensationalizing or romanticizing as sometimes found in other middle grade or young adult literature. The story is, ultimately, about hope, friendship, and treasuring our lives and loved ones including our environment. 

Please scroll down to the section provided by Outschool to read about my expertise with these sensitive topics/themes. Also, feel free to reach out to me with any concerns and/or information you'd like to share with me about your student's experience with these topics/themes.  

Context of illness & grief: 
We learn early on in the story that Will is terrified of hospitals ever since his father died during a routine surgery when Will was only four years old.  Will requires a surgery to repair his jaw so hoping to help him with his fear, Will's mother and his Rabbi decide to make him visit a teenager at the hospital, RJ, as part of his community service project that he needs to complete before his Bar Mitzvah. RJ has a mitochondrial disease, has been cooped up at the hospital for ages, and doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to volunteers spending time with him. Actually, he loves to drive them away. But RJ is dying and Will may be his last chance to finish all the things on his bucket list. Though the boys don’t get along at the beginning and snap at each other quite like turtles do when they feel a stranger invading their territory, their friendship blossoms as RJ helps Will come out of his shell. 


Kiera Astrid
Lives in the United States
I believe in the power of story to educate, connect, and heal.
85 total reviews
43 completed classes

About Me

Stories are magical teachers. 

Through stories we learn about ourselves, each other, and our world. We're introduced to differences and reminded of our similarities. Stories open our minds and hearts. They comfort us when our abilities or... 
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