2017-01-18 / Local News

Local writer bases first children’s book on real-life turtle rescue

MEET LORI SAMLIN MILLER…
By JAYNE JACOVA FELD Voice staff

FAMILY: Husband Eric; children Ilana, Isaac, Emily and David

SYNAGOGUES: Torah Links and Young Israel in Margate

FAVORITE VEGAN, KOSHER RECIPE: Sweet potato black bean burgers

HOBBIES: Reading, cooking, clowning

FAVORITE CHILDREN’S BOOK: “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein

Walking along the Margate beach some six summers ago, Lori Samlin Miller came across vulnerable turtle hatchlings and, in the process, dreamed up the plotline for her first children’s book, “Stay Where I Can See You.”

Both the fictional story and real-life scenario were set into motion when she unwittingly grazed a clump of seaweed with her foot. Their nest disturbed, a gaggle of terrapin babies surged out, scurrying in all directions. Miller, a mother of four, writer and special-education teacher, sensed immediately that the babies were in danger. In no time, there were seagulls circling overhead and little children trying to collect the turtles.

“The concept of the book is safety,” said Miller, a longtime Cherry Hill resident who writes for the Voice as well as other regional publications. “As a parent, you always want your children where you can see them. But also it’s about kindness—not just caring about other species, which these turtles are, but caring in general when someone smaller is in trouble.”

Back at her Margate beach house, Miller hatched a story about the turtle family’s journey from a tranquil bay to the exposed Margate beach. The yarn takes the point of view of both the mother trying desperately to keep her babies safe and of Toby, a hatchling separated from the pack who is rescued by a young boy. The human child at first thinks he has scored the perfect pet, but is persuaded by his mother to reunite Toby with his family.

The book has resonated with the hundreds of young children, ages three to eight, who have already either read it by themselves or had it read to them. Since it was published this fall, Miller has taken it on the road to schools in the Bronx, Philadelphia, and South Jersey. She has donated copies to BookMates, an interfaith literacy program through the Jewish Community Relations Council, and has taken it to Cooper Hospital, where she volunteers each week as a caring clown under the moniker “Dr. Dolphin, smile specialist.”

A lover of literature who has dreamed of writing and publishing her own books since childhood, Miller said penning the story was a welcome opportunity to put both her writing and teaching skills to use. She enjoyed the challenge of composing an action-packed tale based on real life that both enforces safety and instills values.

“Kids are mesmerized,” she said, noting that her grown children and husband Eric, a recently retired oncology surgeon, all helped her hone the story and create her website to promote the book and her other writing. “They love the story and relate to being vulnerable.”

A longtime Cherry Hill resident, Miller was a special education teacher for years. She segued into a journalism career while pursuing her master’s degree in writing from Rowan University and raising her children. She has published widely about education, parenting and Jewish communal life, and recently started a blog filled with delicious recipes called “The Kosher Vegan.” She is also active in the South Jersey Jewish community and has planned more than a few events for Torah Links, Hadassah, and other organizations.

She is currently working on a young adult fiction manuscript and continues writing non-fiction for local publications.

“I’m always writing,” said Miller.

To learn more or purchase “Stay Where I Can See You,” visit https://www.lorisamlinmiller.com 

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