The Sea Turtle Spy Project

Putney Hicks Inventor Adventures–Book 4

Children - Adventure
320 Pages
Reviewed on 07/02/2022
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Award-winning author Marsha Tufft loves snorkeling in the ocean with sea turtles, teaching her dogs cool tricks, and solving problems by coming up with her own designs. Marsha is a retired engineer with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, a master’s degree in aerospace engineering, and a doctorate degree in materials engineering. She enjoys developing experiments targeting girls to give them fun experiences with science, engineering, math, and design.
Because math is so important to success in STEM fields—science, technology, engineering, and math—Marsha has fun experiments that show the magic and power of math.
Marsha blogs about her projects, designs, and experiments at:

    Book Review

Reviewed by Sefina Hawke for Readers' Favorite

The Sea Turtle Spy Project (Putney Hicks Inventor Adventures–Book 4) by Marsha Tufft is a children’s adventure story that would appeal most to a mixed audience of children and preteens who enjoy mystery adventure stories. Putney Hicks is a 12-year-old self-proclaimed wannabe artist/inventor who has set her mind on saving the babies of Stumpy (a 400-pound loggerhead sea turtle). They may be doomed when they emerge from their nest and follow the porch lights they see, not heading for the safety of the ocean, but instead inland where they will be easy prey. Will Putney and Sam (her magic eyePad) be able to save the baby turtles all while also keeping Sam out of the nefarious hands of a secret organization determined to make use of Sam’s capabilities for themselves?

Move over Nancy Drew and Angus MacGyver and make room for Putney and Sam in The Sea Turtle Spy Project by Marsha Tufft. As someone who has lived in Hilton Head, I really liked how the author incorporated the problem-solving process and prototype screen that was utilized to save two sea turtle nests on Hilton Head Island. I liked the team-building exercise that Putney and her group did at the start of the book. This was a great way to familiarize myself with the characters, as I have not read any of the previous books in the series. Overall, I feel this would have been one of my favorite books had I been able to read it while I was in middle school. I loved the focus on saving baby animals as well as the high-tech aspects that came from Sam’s inclusion!

Emily-Jane Hills Orford

Sea turtles are endangered, mostly by the thoughtless and irresponsible actions of humans. Stumpy is a local legend in Hilton Head. She inherited her name due to the loss of one leg to a vicious shark. This 400-pound loggerhead sea turtle is not a quitter. She survived losing the leg and she’s determined to carefully nest her 120 or more eggs. But how can the hatchlings survive if beachcombers leave their porch lights on, something that lures the young turtles out of their nests as they move toward the lights and away from safety and into a danger zone that means certain death? It’s a difficult problem, one that Putney Hicks is determined to solve. In her attempt to save the hatchlings, she stumbles upon an international hacker who is after Sam, the advanced artificial intelligence of the magic eyePad, all while she manages to design a solution, a very simple nest screen, that helps protect the hatchlings, thus saving an endangered species — a huge undertaking.

Marsha Tufft’s middle-grade mystery, The Sea Turtle Spy Project, is the fourth book in the Putney Hicks Inventor Adventures series. Combining mystery, middle school drama, and conservation into a compelling plot makes this an engaging and educational read. The Hilton Head sea turtle dilemma is a very real problem. Weaving this issue with spies and technological wonders, the plot involves considerable problem-solving skills which will inspire young readers with their own abilities to solve problems by addressing difficult issues and taking a step-by-step process to unravel and overcome them. The interesting Foreword provides some background on the sea turtles of Hilton Head. This sparks the reader’s interest and the unraveling mystery that follows will have young readers settling into a good Nancy Drew type of drama. The descriptive narrative, background information on the sea turtles, technological advances, compelling dialogue, and character development all come together to capture the young reader’s attention right from the beginning.

Shrabastee Chakraborty

After relocating to Palmetto Dunes, Putney Hicks is gradually settling down. She has a few friends at school, a secret friend on her tablet, and two adorable pets. She has spent a couple of eventful weeks studded with adventures. However, everything seems to change as the hatching season of the loggerhead turtles approaches. The bright lights from the beach houses cause the baby turtles to be misoriented, turning them inshore and leading them to unfortunate deaths. Could Putney devise a strategy to save them in time? Instead of helping her, why does her technomage friend suddenly disappear? Why is the new girl in their neighborhood keen to follow Putney everywhere? To know the answers, you have to read The Sea Turtle Spy Project, the fourth installment of the Putney Hicks Inventor Adventure series by Marsha Tufft.

It was quite difficult for me to determine what I liked the best in this book. I admired the lessons where the kids learned to cooperate and bond with the students from another group, cultivating the spirit of teamwork. I loved the adventures and sleuthing involving the mysterious house at the beach. Sam’s backstory held me captive with its strange twists. Like the other books of this series, Tufft highlighted the step-by-step approach to problem-solving. I loved how the school inspired STE(A)M, making art an invaluable component in the learning process. Putney’s story showed us how art could be a form of therapy, letting the brain relax and rejuvenate, and could also help in designing innovative devices.

I found Putney's time management strategies quite helpful. The book was also a valuable resource, highlighting the egg-laying habits of loggerhead turtles and the anthropogenic threats to newly hatched turtles. The foreword by Amber Kuehn, the Director of Sea Turtle Patrol Hilton Head Island, who was also featured as a prominent character in the story, increases the awareness of conservation strategies. Although aimed at an audience aged 10-15 years, The Sea Turtle Spy Project has something in it for everyone.

Ronél Steyn

Author Marsha Tufft brings us a truly informative adventure in the fourth book of the Putney Hicks Inventor Adventures series. In The Sea Turtle Spy Project, 12-year-old Putney tries to find a solution to help protect baby sea turtles reaching the ocean. In particular, the babies of Stumpy are of great importance to everyone. During this challenge, Putney and her school friends are involved in another charity event to help raise funds for animal shelters during a hurricane. In the meantime, Sam is always by her side, whether in hiding in the magical eyepad or in holographic form. Putney has to keep Sam a secret to keep her safe from the people behind “The Ghost” and KITE. Should Sam fall into the wrong hands, who knows what might happen?

I have to admit that it took me a while to warm up to Putney. I will put it down to not having read any of the previous adventures. This book, however, can be read as a stand-alone, but I wouldn’t recommend it. You will see that Putney is not your average 12-year-old lazing around and hating school. She and her friends are involved in the community, which sets the background for this series. The story is written in such a way that conservation information is easy to grasp. Problems are solved with a clear step-by-step plan. Motivational snippets inserted as words of wisdom from Sam are meaningful and clear to understand. I wish I had read this book when I was younger. Marsha Tufft has put a lot of effort into making fundamental life lessons a pleasure to read and easy to remember.

Pikasho Deka

The Sea Turtle Spy Project is the fourth book of the award-winning Putney Hicks Inventor Adventures series by Marsha Tufft. Middle schooler Putney Hicks always wanted to be an artist/inventor like her idol, Leonardo Da Vinci. Finally adjusted to her new school, twelve-year-old Putney is now working on a fundraiser for a kennel club alongside her friends and techno-mage interface Sam. After a zoom session with marine biologist Amber Kuehn, who leads the volunteer organization Sea Turtle Patrol, Putney is determined to protect the hatchlings of a 400-pound mama loggerhead sea turtle named Stumpy from bright porch lights that would lure the new hatchlings inland away from the safety of the ocean. But time is running out, and to further complicate matters, she is being trailed by a girl named Taylor. When Sam disappears, Putney suspects that a mysterious organization called KITE might be after Sam. Can she complete her prototype and reunite with Sam?

The Sea Turtle Spy Project is another stellar installment of the Putney Hicks Inventor Adventures series. This time, Putney and her friends are trying to figure out a way to screen the hatchlings of an endangered loggerhead sea turtle from the bright lights of the house behind the nest amid a deadline. But she and her magical eyePad interface Sam are being pursued by people with unknown motives. Author Marsha Tufft infuses a lot of charm and humor into this adventure tale that is bound to entertain preteens and young adults alike. Putney is one of a kind. She takes every task to heart and plans everything meticulously, with a keen eye for detail. Readers looking for a fun-filled sci-fi adventure should definitely give this one a go.