No turn for tern


“No Turn For Tern! A Martha’s Vineyard Moonlight Mystery,” Rebecca J. Loescher, illustrated by Judith Pfeiffer, Technical production by Carolee Aiello of Color Concepts, Edgartown, PinkletinkPress, Clarks Summit, Penn., 32 pp.,19.95.

There’s an increase in kids’ books written on and about the Vineyard, as well as the increasing number of mysteries set on the Island. So children’s book author Rebecca Loescher has combined these two ingredients in a picture book about a mystery. The mystery is only a secret until the last of its 29 pages, and it doesn’t include a body in the surf.

It starts on the first day of summer…

“It’s time!” declares Tern.“Tonight is the night!A surprise on the VineyardComes with moon’s magic light!”Island creatures start guessing,But is anyone right?If only they’d listen,And be more polite!

What makes it fun is that a tern knows the secret and tries to tell other Island native animals about it – but they won’t or can’t listen. For one thing, the tern can’t talk in sheep or dog language. So the animals go their own happy-go-lucky ways, trying to guess the secret.

The reader travels with them around the Island to visit all the spots that everyone knows and remembers: from the East Chop lighthouse or The Gay Head Cliffs, from the Flying Horses to the Big Bridge. And the resolution is a happy, mysterious one with precedents in ancient folklore.

Both of the creative ladies are Vineyarders. Judith lives fulltime in Katama, Becky spends some of the year in Clarks Summit, Penn., and some of it on East Chop.

It was Becky’s original idea that led to the finished book. About two years ago she got the initial idea and started working it out in rhyme. She discussed the idea with various bookstore owners here, made adjustments, and continued work. Eventually she found the right illustrator in Judith Pfeiffer, whose work has been featured in educational publishing and whose lively and, no other word for it, cute animals inhabit this book.

It’s a pleasure to read for kids and their grandparents, for remembering favorite places on the Island and for enjoying the crowded spreads, and following the progress of one small mouse, who’s a photographer for one of the Island’s newspapers.

The ladies will sign their book at Edgartown Books at 3:30 pm on Sunday, July 4, while wearing original costumes.