Lenny the Leatherback


Last year an editor suggested I write a children’s rhyming book about cancer that could be illustrated and published. No luck on finding an illustrator or publisher yet. (Let me know if you have any contacts I could pursue.) Here’s how the tale begins . . .

Lenny the Leatherback
Lenny the Leatherback


Lenny was a Leatherback
who lived among the Keys;
roaming through the sapphire depths
just doing what he pleased.

Boundless waters far and wide
he treated as his own,
since everywhere that Len went
he carried home sweet home.

The Genus Dermochelys
is what to call his kind,
if you are someone blessed with
a scientific mind.

Leatherbacks like Lenny are
of such tremendous girth,
that when it comes to turtles
they’re the largest ones on Earth;
the world’s fastest reptiles
and deepest divers too;
the Guinness Book of Records
confirms these boasts are true.

Unlike the other turtles
with shells of massive bone,
the carapace on Len’s back
was hardened skin alone.

Bold ridges on his topside
strong flippers and sharp beak,
gave him a handsome profile
and singular physique.

Len used to be a show-off
when everything was well,
but not since he’d developed
a problem with his shell.

On its once splendid surface
a foul and irksome blight,
was causing awful problems
and hurting day and night.

It turned Len’s happy spirit
a dreary shade of blue,
and drove him to distraction
he didn’t have a clue,
about why this had happened
why he should be the one
to get this dreadful sickness,
not knowing where it’s from.

Perhaps something he’d eaten,
or fungus, worms or lice.
His friends might have ideas,
he’d ask them for advice.


The story goes on to relate Len’s encounters with his pals:

  • Jinx and Jasper, gray grouper twins
  • Pam the parrotfish
  • Sid the silver snapper
  • Raul the reef shark

All of whom turn out to be fair water friends who leave Len feeling more discouraged and depressed. Finally, Lenny talks to his father, whose wise words bring new perspective and hope. Dad’s advice:

  • You are loved and cared for no matter what.
  • Going through hard times is an unavoidable part of life.
  • What doesn’t make sense now might have great value later on.
  • We don’t know why bad things happen but you aren’t being punished.
  • You can’t choose what hits you but you can choose how you hit back.
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4 thoughts on “Lenny the Leatherback

  1. Great story, Mike. I would like to read all of it! What made you pick a turtle to get sick? That publisher has got to be out there somewhere. You are no. 1 with us!! Love, Mom and Dad

  2. I love the story and can’t wait to see it in its entirety… with picture and all. You’re a great writer. And I like your new profile picture… 🙂

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