Timely Umit Upturns Tim

“Tim again mustered up courage—his pulse pattering, he poked out his little head. Seeing a large head with two glassy yellow eyes stirred feelings of dread. A fang-decorated smile left him feeling vulnerable and cold. Tension in Timmy’s tummy popped as the cat hissed, “Wow, what do I behold!”

In 1950’s Turkey, along the banks of the Dalyan River, lives a timid, tender, tolerant, thankful, thoughtful yet socially awkward turtle. Poor Tim is misunderstood by the other animals, so he is a lonely, grumpy fellow. One day a monsoon causes the river to flood, sweeping Tim upstream where he is deposited on a furry striped rug— it’s Umit, a tiger and potential predator who offers to help him. Should Tim trust Umit? Will Umit be a tiger of his word and deliver Tim home, or will Tim have the same fate as the classic gingerbread man? Can Tim’s courage carry him to a new outlook? This charming children’s book uses rhyme and the alliterative sounds of “T” words to help build vocabulary while also raising awareness of the plight of the Caspian tiger and loggerhead turtle.

School Visit: What Can You Expect?

  • In costume, I will read the story to a group of students, ( The suggested maximum is no more than three classes. The reading would be more effective with one or two classes)

  • A copy of the book for the school

  • The option to use the book as a fundraiser. I will ask for $7.00 to cover my cost and the school or the classroom can set their own price for instance, the book could be sold for $12 which is almost 5 dollars less than regular retail price

  • Depending on time availability, I will conduct a writing workshop with the students in your class

The cover for the children's story "Timely Umit Upturns Tim"

Inspiration for the Story

Inspiration for the story….came from a friend of mine who is very timid and cautious. This person struggles with anxiety and fear and as such often is perceived as being aloof, distant and uninterested which leads people to be less wanting to engage in conversation or do things, resulting in this person feeling lonely. It was when this friend mustered up the courage to do something different that their attitude then changed. They were happier, more trusting, more confident and their relationships with others improved. I also wanted to write a story that who be similar to The Gingerbread Boy story in that a vulnerable character who have to trust a stronger character but in contrast to the Gingerbread Boy, the story ends on a positive note, celebrating trust and friendship.

An illustration of Keith

About the Illustrator

Keith has always drawn and painted. As a child, after the war when here were shortages of so many things, he would paint Christmas cards for the family to send to friends and relatives. In the early days most of his work involved pencil drawings and later he did many pen and ink drawings. This was complimented by his work as a draftsman for many years.

In recent years Keith has been drawn into the fascinating and often frustrating world of watercolour painting. He says sometimes it seems like the paints have a mind of their own which can often lead to surprising results, sometimes good and sometimes not so good. Keith draws inspiration mostly from the natural world, landscapes, seascapes, birds and animals in particular but recently he has turned his hand to portraits and figure painting. He sees each new painting as an exciting journey, never sure of where the path will lead but always interesting and rewarding. His immediate ambition is to embark on some large scale works which he sees as particularly challenging for the water colour painter. Maybe he just needs larger brushes. Now, if he can just get the cat to move off his drawing-board…..

He has participated in the Sidney Fine Art Show several times and in 2015 earned Honorable Mention for his work titled “Family Elephant”.

Guide for Reading: PRC – Predictions, Reflections and Connections


Predicting is an essential tool when developing as a strong reader. This story has been written to hook the young audience in engaging in predicable events.

Ask the following questions:

Do you think Tim, the turtle will remain a loner, shy and seemingly unhappy?

What do you think might happen to Tim in the torrential rainstorm?

Where do you think Tim landed after the storm? Was he on a breathing, smelling, striped rug?

Do you predict the tiger will be kind or nasty?

Do you predict Tim will get back home? How?


Reflecting throughout a book helps make a read personal and come alive. It reflects a readers level of comprehension. A more thoughtful and complex reflection and connection reveals and higher understanding as oppose to simple literal comparisons and or relating. They also allow for a reader to reflect and retell part of the story as they are reflecting and relating. A simplistic retelling usually reflects a more simplistic understanding.

Use the following questions for points of discussion:

Have you ever found yourself feeling shy, alone or misunderstood?

Have you had anything happen to you to change your attitude and perspective? Can you share this change of attitude experience?

Can you think of two characteristics that Tim needed to have to get back home with Umit’s help?

Has this ever happened to you that you need to have courage and trust to change or improve your circumstances?

Describe a time when you ever first me someone and were afraid of them but then after getting to know them and trust them you became friends?

Have you ever been afraid of doing something but then after you did it you were proud of yourself? Did it change how you perceived things?

What is your favourite part of the story and why?


Making connections allows a reader to develop their understanding of a story through inferences and noting details.

Use the following questions for points of discussion:

Does this story remind you of another fairy tale?

If it reminds you of the Gingerbread Boy, how is it the same or different?

Umit tells of Caspian tigers being threatened by being hunted by humans. Can you think of other animals at risk of extinction?

When Tim yells, “Onward home, my transporter, let us ride with the wind!’ followed by the description of Tim’s eyes bright as he grinned, what is is telling you about Tim’s attitude? How is it changing and what characteristic is he showing?

Why were the other animals in shock when Tim returned home?

Several pages have bold words or phrases. Choose one, two or all of them. What do they mean to you personally or as it relates to the story? Adults remember to be willing to share your answers in a casual way with the child or instead of the child answering. Make it a personal sharing not a grilling. How do these emphasize a part of the story?

How did the other animals attitudes change and why?

Additional Resources


Learn More About Tigers
Endangered List – Caspian Tigers
Caspian Tigers May Return to Kazakhstan
Is ‘Extinct’ Forever?


Saving Turkey’s Sea Turtles
Loggerhead Turtle
Caspian Turtle

Songs for Preschoolers:

Turtle & Tiger Dance


Adorable Turtle Crafts & Activities
Tiger Themed Craft Projects