The Turtle Dove’s Journey: A Story of Migration

Based on the migration of a real turtle dove tracked by satellite telemetry, this book follows a turtle dove on his annual migration from Europe to Africa.

Author: Madeleine Dunphy
Illustrator: Marlo Garnsworthy
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 32
Ages: 5-9
Grade Levels: K-4
Lexile: 1000L
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1970039016
Price: $17.95
Where to Purchase:

Award Named one of “The Best Children’s Books of the Year” by the Children’s Book Committee and the Bank Street College of Education

Award Finalist for the Animal Behavior Society’s Outstanding Children’s Book Award

“The story of the monthlong, 4,000-mile migration of a European turtle dove from his nesting site in an English garden to rural Mali. Dunphy’s account is based on the migration of a real bird of this species that was tracked with satellite telemetry by Britain’s Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. A series of warm, colorful illustrations is paired with a narrative describing each stage in the bird’s journey. The conversational third-person narration folds in lots of information: about how the bird knows where he is going—instinct, the sun, and recognition of landmarks from previous flights; why he flies at night (to avoid predators); where he hides during the day; and the various dangers of the trip, including heat, dust, and weather. Interesting details are included, such as the astonishing fact that the dove travels over the English Channel faster than the ships crossing it. The moving, engaging story is told with just the right blend of poetic warmth and factual detail to satisfy curious budding naturalists: “Luckily, this [Sahara Desert sandstorm] is relatively mild, and the turtle dove flies above it—much like an airplane can fly above a rainstorm.” A closing essay describes why this species is thought to migrate and notes that it is sadly on the decline due to changes in agricultural practices, hunting, drought, and disease. A compelling introduction to the miracle of migration. (map, resources) (Informational picture book. 6-10)” Kirkus Reviews

“Every year, turtle doves living in England and throughout Europe set out on an epic journey. In August or September, these birds fly off on a migratory pathway that takes them to Mali on the continent of Africa. This trip will encompass four thousand miles of flight and will take a month to complete. Flying at night to avoid predators, the doves first fly across the European continent, then cross over to Africa at Gibraltar, fly over the Sahara Desert, and finally arrive at their migratory destination. For six months, the doves live in their African habitat before returning north to raise their families in Europe. It is the story of the turtle dove, and its amazing migration, that readers will encounter in this lovely illustrated book. The story of the turtle doves migration is well-told in the informative text, and the colorful illustrations are a true augmentation to the story of these redoubtable birds. The author concludes the book with an informative summation of these amazing birds and the extreme challenges they face in their battle to survive as a species. Turtle doves are in danger of extinction due to habitat loss and environmental damage wrought by human beings. By learning more about the fantastic journeys turtle doves undertake, perhaps young people will better understand that our actions can have dire consequences for other living beings. This lovely book is a wonderful source of information and one that young readers with a bent for nature studies will enjoy.”—Children’s Literature

“This turtle dove’s journey was based on the migration of a real turtle dove that was tracked by satellite telemetry. Readers can follow the turtle dove as he begins to become restless in a garden in Suffolk, England and knows that it is time for him to migrate south. The turtle dove waits until night, when it is safer from predators, to travel the 4,000 miles from England to Mali. His month long journey takes him through England, France, Spain, and Africa until he finally arrives in Mali. Flying over land and water he stops each day to rest and eat for the next night’s journey. This beautifully written story about the journey of one turtle dove gives young readers a glimpse into the natural world of migration. (Ages 4-8)”—KIDSbookshelf

“Starting in the prim hedges of Suffolk, England, instinct drives the dove high into the night skies for a 4,000 mile trip to the savannahs of Mali, in West Africa. Along the way there are lonely, moonlit flights above the sea, a cozy hideout in the bushes of Bordeaux, France, a meeting of the birds at Gibraltar, the fountains of Casablanca, winds flowing “like a river” down canyons of the Atlas Mountains, and a Sahara sandstorm churning below. A combination of hero’s journey and guided tour, ‘The Turtle Dove’s Journey: A Story of Migration’ is picture account of the turtle dove’s annual migration that will carry children’s imaginations into unexplored territories. With carefully researched prose by author Madeleine Dunphy and showcasing beautifully luminous paintings by artist/illustrator Marlo Garnsworthy, ‘The Turtle Dove’s Journey: A Story of Migration’ is especially recommended for family, elementary school, and community library collections as being perfect for any young reader ages 5-9 who has ever wondered about the mysterious journeys of the Turtle Dove.”—Midwest Book Review

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Madeleine Dunphy

Madeleine Dunphy has studied and visited many of the world’s ecosystems, and was inspired to write books about our world’s great diversity of life. Her books have been published by Hyperion Books for Children, Millbrook Press, and her own publishing company, Web of Life Children’s Books—a publishing company devoted to publishing picture books about the environment. Madeleine is also a teacher, activist and mother. She lives in Oakland, California. For more information about Madeleine, her books, and her school presentations visit


Marlo Garnsworthy

Marlo Garnsworthy is an Australian-American author, illustrator, editor, science communicator, and naturalist. Her published works include fiction and nonfiction, though nonfiction and science are her passion. She has traveled extensively, frequently accompanying scientists working in the field, and spent two months on a scientific research expedition, sailing on an icebreaker from Antarctica through the planet’s roughest seas, in the Southern Ocean. She lives in Wakefield, Rhode Island. You can learn more about Marlo, her books, and her school presentations at