The Story of Neeps and Tattie Receives Starred Kirkus Review

January 12, 2024

January 3, 2024

Thomaston, ME—The Story of Neeps and Tattie (Maine Authors Publishing, 2023) a children’s book published in April 2023 by Diane Madden and Amy Johnson, and illustrated by Abigial Gray Swartz, recently received a starred Kirkus Review and will be one of the select few reviews to be featured in the print magazine’s January edition.  

“Learning that we received a starred review on our very first children’s book was such exciting news for Amy and me,” said co-author Madden, “especially once we learned that so few books receive the Kirkus star.”  

Books reviewed by Kirkus that earned the Kirkus star are automatically nominated for the 2023 Kirkus Prize. The Kirkus Prize is a prestigious award that comes with $50,000 prize bestowed annually to authors of fiction, nonfiction, and young readers’ literature.

“We were thrilled to learn that The Story of Neeps and Tattie will be included in the January edition of Kirkus Reviews, which will help us reach a wider audience,” said co-author Johnson. “Writing this book has been an incredible experience for both of us and we look forward to where this journey takes us.”  

Described by Kirkus Reviews as, “A charming tale sure to pique kids’ interest in Scotland—and tortoises,” The Story of Neeps and Tattie is about two rescued tortoises who have lived for over 50 years in Annie McKay’s flower garden, near the shores of Loch Ness, in Scotland. The story chronicles the antics of the tortoises throughout the year, including how Annie helps them to hibernate in her refrigerator during the winter! Children will learn about the habitat and behavior of land tortoises, characteristics of the seasons of the year, and facts about Scotland’s geography, history, and culture. A glossary of words used in the book is included.

For more than 87 years, Kirkus has been one of the most trusted and authoritative voices in book discovery. Kirkus Reviews covers more than 11,000 books published every year. To read the full review, visit

Madden is from Harrison, Maine, and a former director of Raising Readers, a children’s health and literacy program in Maine. Johnson lives in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania and is a former teacher of visually impaired children. Swartz, the book’s illustrator, lives in Freeport, Maine.  Madden and Johnson were inspired to write The Story of Neeps and Tattie after a trip to Scotland in 2019.

The Story of Neeps and Tattie is available from your local bookstore,, or Amazon. For more information or to schedule an author event, visit

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