We are beyond excited! Umijoo won the 2019 Gold Medal for mid-grade fiction from the highly respected Nautilus Book Awards. This is a huge win, and will help us tremendously in promoting our message of ocean conservation!
The Nautilus Book Awards are some of the most highly regarded awards in modern American literature. They specialize in acknowledging and elevating “Books for a Better World”, which is all that Umijoo has ever striven to be.
A bit about Nautilus, in their own words:
The Nautilus Awards program seeks, recognizes, honors, celebrates and promotes print books that inspire and connect our lives as individuals, families, communities, and global citizens… We look for exceptional literary contributions to spiritual growth, green values & sustainability, high-level wellness, responsible leadership and positive social change & social justice, as well as to the worlds of art, creativity and inspirational reading for children, teens and young adults.
This is one of the greatest honors we as the creators of activist children’s literature could ever hope to achieve, and is something we will treasure. We are so grateful to all of our supporters, to the team at the Nautilus Awards, and to everyone else who made this possible. Thank you!
Our friends and supporters at the Kokomo Manta Conservation Project named a juvenile female manta after our protagonist!
Fiji is a special place for manta rays, and there’s a incredible conservation team down there doing amazing work! Cliona Flaherty (@coflahe) and Luke Gordon (@lukegordonphotography) head up a team at the Kokomo Private Island Resort, tracking and studying mantas. Kokomo has a cutting-edge education program for their guests, where they teach kids and adults alike about manta rays, conservation, and the beauty and vulnerability of the ocean. They even use Umijoo (the book, not the manta ray) in their children’s education material!
Huge thanks to the team down in Fiji for their amazing work! Give them a follow to learn more about what they are up to, and to see even more incredible manta ray footage by Luke Gordon!
The Independent Publisher Book Awards (the IPPYs) have recognized the incredible work of our designer, Mike “Sully” Sullivan of Three Speed Creative, by awarding Umijoo the Bronze Medal in their design category! This is a real honor for Sully and for the rest of the Umijoo team, we are very excited!
From the beginning, we as a team were determined to make the cover of Umijoo something special. We knew that we were producing a book that would need to compete with iPads and other technology for a child’s attention. As such, we decided to make the cover as engrossing as possible, with both visual and tactile touches that were designed to pull the reader into the story. Everything from the text placement to the feel of the finish and the depth of the embossing was very carefully engineered. We are so happy that our efforts are paying off, and that people enjoy the experience of not only reading Umijoo, but of simply picking it up and holding it. Thank you to the IPPY team for the recognition, we appreciate it very much!
In partnership with the amazing Orca Network, we are thrilled to present an afternoon with Umijoo at the Langley Whale Center!
The Orca Network has been working to promote cetacean conservation for decades. One of the organization’s flagship projects has been working to free Lolita, a female Salish Sea orca who has been held in captivity at the Miami Seaquarium since the 1970s. In addition, the Network maintains the Langley Whale Center on Whidbey Island, which gives visitors and residents alike a chance to learn more about the endangered Southern Resident orcas. The Center also offers information about the North Puget Sound Gray Whales, a small, unique population of gray whales who find sustenance in the waters of Saratoga Passage and Possession Sound each Spring. During the summer months, the Whale Center invites school groups, visitors, and locals to attend monthly education weekends,
In addition to offering a reading of Umijoo, Casson will be signing books and taking questions starting at noon. The event will go until about 3pm.
We hope to see you all there!
Due to the nature of my work, I don’t often have the chance to hold readings or events that aren’t in seaside communities. Most ocean-related institutions, events, and festivals are in distinguished seaboard towns and port cities that have legacy relationships with the sea. This pattern would seem to indicate that ocean conservation themes might resonate more frequently with individuals who live near the shore. That said, to equate a love of our marine environment solely with those coastal communities would be a grave disservice to the millions of people who, despite living hundreds of miles from the ocean, still care deeply about our underwater ecosystems and their inhabitants.
Case in point: after I announced the first Umijoo tour calendar back in May, I received a large number of requests to do events in towns and cities that were not on the list. The most frequently requested? Albuquerque, New Mexico: a desert metropolis that sprawls along the feet of the Sandia Mountains, 817 miles from the ocean. I like to think that this groundswell of interest in Umijoo illustrates the depth of the connection we as humans have with the ocean, regardless of whether or not it happens to be nearby.
So, thanks to the organizational efforts of our wonderful supporters in New Mexico, Umijoo is coming to the Land of Enchantment! I am honored and thrilled to offer a free Umijoo reading and signing at the Bachechi Environmental Center on July 24th. All are welcome; the event will begin at 4pm and run until about 6:30pm, I will either do one or two readings depending on attendance and flow, and books will be available for purchase. I hope to see you there!