Meet Sue Trew
Author and Illustrator
I was lucky enough to be born on the beautiful island of Barbados where my parents, Jimmy and Jill Walker, settled from the UK in 1960. My father was a successful architect and my mother a well-known artist and we lived in an old plantation house that my father had renovated. It was in the country with a very large garden and we had a large assortment of pets. For my two older sisters and I, it was truly idyllic and we spent most of our time outdoors adventuring, loving our family outings to the east coast to jump in the waves and going on full moon picnics.
In 1975 my parents opened their first shop called Best of Barbados. Their vision was to sell gifts that were made or designed in Barbados, combining my mother’s design talents with those of local craftsman. Like many family businesses, I grew up helping on weekends, watching the expansion of what soon became a very popular brand. My husband, Chris Trew, and I joined the business in 1990 and continue to run it today.
In 2008 I began to paint as, with our own daughters Holly and Georgie now grownup, I had a little more time. I’ve always loved the environment and Chris and I brought our daughters up to love and respect it too, so it wasn’t a surprise that I began to paint pictures of turtles. We’d often see turtles when swimming and were sometimes lucky enough to watch them come up on the beach to nest.
The idea of writing and illustrating a children’s book about turtles came to me at a ‘hatchlings release’ put on by the Barbados Sea Turtle Project one evening at sunset. There were several delighted children there too and I thought how it would be great if they could go home and read a story at bedtime about what they had just seen.
I felt it was important that the story contain accurate facts so children would learn about turtles too. As the books would be for young children, I thought any extra facts could go in the back for older siblings and parents. My family and friends all contributed ideas and information and before I knew it, the main character had a name and came as a cuddly toy!
‘Turtle Tracks’, the story of a nesting hawksbill turtle called Tilli, was completed in early 2013. It proved so popular with visitors and locals alike, that it wasn’t long before I was working on ‘Happy Hatchlings’, the story of six hatchling turtles. It was fun designing hatchlings with names and characters that children could relate to and each hatchling had an adventure that I thought real hatchlings could have. The plush toys were an immediate hit with children who delighted in the different colours and quickly learnt all six names by heart.
The rest you could say is history! Each year since, I’ve chosen a topic, researched it, thought of the main characters and written a story about them around the facts. It’s been a great journey. I think the best part for me has been seeing the books and the toys in the hands of the children they were designed for. Seeing the delight in their faces and hearing that my books are their favorite at bedtime. It’s also rewarding to know that families all around the world are learning more about their environment, learning to love and respect it.
From our small beginnings in Barbados, I’m proud Turtle Tracks Family is now sold in the USA, extensively throughout Florida and the Carolinas, in family owned stores and conservation organizations. Also that in 2021 we’re making tracks to the UK! Yes, our turtles, manatees, dolphins, conch, monkeys and geckos are all travelling ‘across the pond’ to join families throughout Britain!
Thanks for being part of our family!