Umijoo just won the Nautilus Awards gold medal!

Umijoo just won the Nautilus Awards gold medal!

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!

There’s a manta ray in Fiji named after Umijoo!

There’s a manta ray in Fiji named after Umijoo!

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!

Umijoo book design honored with an IPPY award!

Umijoo book design honored with an IPPY award!

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!

August 24 in Langley, WA: Umijoo at the Langley Whale Center

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!

July 24 in Albuquerque, NM: Umijoo at Bachechi Environmental Center

July 24 in Albuquerque, NM: Umijoo at Bachechi Environmental Center

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!

Umijoo Tour Calendar: June 2019

Umijoo Tour Calendar: June 2019

Hi everyone! Here’s the current tour calendar for Umijoo events in June.

I’ll be updating this post in real time with any changes or updates!

June 15: Bandon, OR — Umijoo reading at the Washed Ashore Gallery
The Washed Ashore Gallery is a wonderful interactive learning space designed to educate guests around issues of plastic pollution and marine debris. I am thrilled to be collaborating with the team at Washed Ashore to help promote ocean conservation and to push shared vision of vibrant, healthy oceans for future generations. Not only is the Gallery located along a gorgeous stretch of the Oregon Coast, but it hosts an incredible amount of amazing artwork dedicated to our oceans. Visitors will not be disappointed!
When: The reading and signing will be from 2pm to 4pm on the 15th.
How much: Free with admission.
Reservations: No reservations necessary, stop on by anytime!
For More Information:


June 16: Brookings, OR — an evening with Umijoo at Pacific Sushi
Pacific Sushi in Brookings, OR, has been quietly championing the cause of sustainability for years. Ever since the restaurant opened, owner Mike Horgan has been working diligently to find new and exciting ways to offer his brand of responsible, ocean-friendly dining to the Oregon Coast community. On June 16, I will be teaming up with Mike and his incredible culinary team to offer a dining experience to remember. The meal will consist of eight delectable courses interwoven with readings from Umijoo, and the menu will feature local and sustainably sourced delicacies that showcase the great potential of mindful dining. Diners/parties will receive personalized copies of Umijoo to take home.
When: Cocktail hour 5-6pm to be followed by seating at 6pm. A second seating may be added later in the evening as well.
How much: $75 per person.
Reservations: Please call Pacific Sushi at (541) 930-7900 to reserve your place. Seats are moving quickly!
For More Information:


June 18: Chico, CA — an evening with Umijoo at Aonami
When it comes to sustainable sushi in the Central Valley, Chef Jimmy Lee has been carrying the torch for nearly a decade. Aonami Sustainable Sushi in Chico has won numerous “best of” awards over the past ten years while simultaneously promoting the values and goals intrinsic to mindful dining. Chef Lee is also not one to back down from a challenge: In honor of the importance of plant-based cuisine when it comes to responsible and ethical food systems, Aonami will be offering two back-to-back seatings on the night of the 18th, the first of which will be entirely vegan. I will also be reading at The Bookstore before the event for those interested!
When: The reading is at 3pm, the first seating (vegan) at Aonami is at 5:15pm, and the second seating (sustainable seafood) is at 7:15pm.
How much: The vegan seating is offered at $69, and the seafood seating is offered at $79.
Reservations: Please call Aonami at (530) 774-2981 to make a reservation. Be sure to indicate which of the seatings you would like!
For more information: Visit Aonami’s Facebook page at


June 20: Capitola, CA — an evening with Umijoo at Geisha (with both Casson & Caia)
From his beautiful sushi bar overlooking the sea, Chef David Graham creates delicious, environmentally responsible dishes for locals and travelers alike. Geisha is known for its creative and complex flavors, its artful use of sustainable seafood, and the admirably bountiful portion of its menu that is dedicated solely to plant-based dishes. This evening was originally planned as a buffet, but will now be full service while still offering diners the opportunity to try many of Chef Graham’s wonderful creations. Additionally, both Casson and Caia will be at this event, making it unique among all of the tour stops. The Umijoo reading will be broken up into small, digestible pieces to fuel a lively and convivial evening. 
The evening begins at 6:30 pm.
How much:
$75 per person includes all-you-can-eat sushi (lots of vegan and seafood options available), sake, wine, and a signed copy of Umijoo to take home.
Reservations: Please call Geisha at (831) 464-3328 to reserve your spot.
For more information: Check out Geisha’s Facebook page at


June 21: Monterey, CA — signing books at the Monterey Bay Aquarium
This isn’t a formal event by any means, just an opportunity to come say hi and have your book signed. I will be visiting the legendary Monterey Bay Aquarium on the 21st (I am so excited!) and will sign all of the copies of Umijoo in stock at the Aquarium gift shops before I leave. If you’re there at the time and would like to buy a book, I’d be more than happy to personalize one for you!
I’ll probably be hanging around the gift shop from 11am until about 11:30am. If you are coming by and want to make sure we connect, just email me at [email protected] and we can make sure it happens!
How much: 
Information on admission prices for the Aquarium can be found here.
Reservations: N/A
For more information: Here’s the MBA website, it’s amazing —


June 22: Santa Barbara, CA — Umijoo reading at the Maritime Museum
The Santa Barbara Maritime Museum is a monument to this wonderful community’s venerable relationship with the ocean. As the primary custodian of Santa Barbara’s maritime heritage, the museum showcases many different types of artwork, as well as numerous events, installations, and experiences designed to illustrate the importance and power of Santa Barbara’s nautical spirit. I am honored and humbled to be reading Umijoo at the Museum, which continues to be a tremendous champion of ocean conservation outreach.
When: From 1pm to 2:30pm. If the weather is good, we’ll be on the patio!
How much:
Not necessary, just come on by!
For more information
: The Museum put together an event page, you can visit it at 


June 23: Los Angeles, CA — reading, signing, drinks and music at Mystic Journey Gallery
The Abbot-Kinney neighborhood of Venice is known for its hip, modern storefronts, and my favorite is definitely the crystalline wonderland of Mystic Journey. Their magnificent gallery space is festooned with gorgeous artwork — some made by human hands, and some by the Earth itself — and I am incredibly excited to be sharing Umijoo aloud in this magical space. The reading will be followed by an evening of drinks, music, and conversation. Note that this is at the gallery space (on Lincoln Blvd), not at the bookstore!
The event will start at 3pm.
How much:
Free admission to the event, books and drinks are available for purchase on premises.
Reservations: Not needed!
For more information: Please check out Mystic Journey’s website at


June 24: Long Beach, CA — signing books at the Aquarium of the Pacific
Long Beach’s paramount ocean education destination has been a major Umijoo supporter ever since the book came out, and I’m very excited to have the chance to spend some time with the team there! We aren’t doing any formal reading or anything like that, but I’ll be hanging out at the gift shop and signing books in the afternoon. Come by and say hi! Similar to the Monterey Bay event, the hours for this aren’t set in stone so if you want to make sure we connect, please email me beforehand at [email protected]
From 11:30am until about 1pm or thereabouts. 
How much:
Information on admission prices for the Aquarium can be found here.
Reservations: N/A
For more information: The Aquarium maintains a robust web presence at


June 25: La Jolla, CA — Umijoo reading at the La Jolla Library
I love libraries and don’t get to work with them nearly as frequently as I would like. Thanks to the incredible staff at the La Jolla library (which is a jewel of the library system), I will have the chance to offer a reading as well as sales and signings of Umijoo at this wonderful institution. The event is free and open to everyone! There are a lot of wonderful Umijoo supporters in the San Diego area, some of which who have been with us since the very beginning of the project; hopefully they will be in attendance as well! I hope to see as many people as possible at this event!
How much:
Free admission, books can be purchased at the event.
Reservations: Not needed.
For more information: The library team has put a great event page together, check it out at

June 16th in Brookings, OR: Umijoo at Pacific Sushi

June 16th in Brookings, OR: Umijoo at Pacific Sushi

For those of you living in Southern Oregon, Umijoo is coming to your area!

Pacific Sushi in Brookings, OR, has been quietly championing the cause of sustainability for years. Ever since the restaurant opened, owner Mike Horgan has been working diligently to find new and exciting ways to offer his brand of responsible, ocean-friendly dining to the Oregon Coast community. On June 16, I will be teaming up with Mike and his incredible culinary team to offer a dining experience to remember.

Similar to what we offered at Mayanoki last week, the evening at Pacific Sushi will consist of a multi-course, prix fixe experience, interwoven with readings from Umijoo, as well as laughter, conversation, and stories from the road. The menu will feature local and sustainably sourced delicacies that showcase the great potential of mindful dining. Diners will go home with a copy of Umijoo, signed specifically to you or to whomever else you wish.

Please call (541) 930-7900 to reserve your place. Seats are moving quickly!

By the way, more events like this are coming! I will be doing dinners and readings along the West Coast throughout the second half of June. We are still in the final confirmation stages with several other venues; I’ll put up another post in the coming week that has the entire tour schedule on it.

I sincerely hope to see you all soon, either at Pacific Sushi or elsewhere!

May 23, New York City: Umijoo at Mayanoki

May 23, New York City: Umijoo at Mayanoki

One lesson I learned from the early days of the sustainable sushi movement was the difficulty of reaching an audience with words alone, especially if the subject matter was troubling. We are so bombarded with depressing information these days that we have developed a tendency to shut off when we are unable — or unwilling — to accept any additional gloom. This can pose a problem when trying to reach an audience with a message about something dire that requires their participation, such as protecting our oceans.

When my partners and I opened Tataki Sushi Bar in 2008, we found an opportunity to communicate our conservation mission without relying solely on language. The restaurant allowed us to express ourselves through flavors, aromas, and plating arrangements that transmitted the potential of mindful dining without resorting to speeches or verbose mission statements. Dinner remained dinner, it did not become an uninvited clinic on the plight of our environment.

Ever since, I have tried to hold to this idea that messages are stronger when they come through multiple senses simultaneously, and that stressing the positive potential of adaptation is a more welcome approach than relying solely on alarmist rhetoric. In this spirit, I am happy to announce the first of multiple partnerships that will pair an omakase (chef’s choice, no menu) sustainable sushi experience with a reading of Umijoo.

On May 23, I will be teaming up with the incredible team at Mayanoki in New York City. Chef Jeff Miller will be designing and executing a thirteen-course arc through the width and breadth of the sushi spectrum. Miller’s adherence to classic Japanese technique as well as his passion for ethical food systems give rise to a subtle, delicate approach to sushi that places him among the top echelon of sushi chefs across the country.

When prepared with reverence and humility, sushi becomes more than a meal. It is a journey, a romance, and an education. Mayanoki will be offering two seatings of eight seats each (sixteen tickets total). Sign up now to reserve your spot; this is an experience you will savor for a long, long time. Join us!

The Making of Umijoo

The Making of Umijoo

Umijoo was a massive project. From conception to final production, the book took six years to create.

After being inspired by a conversation that I had with a dear friend, I spent two years writing and re-writing the story before approaching Caia to illustrate the book. We created a comprehensive storyboard before she began painting, which ended up being a multi-year process that was propelled by our many dedicated Patreon supporters. Without that community, Umijoo never would have happened.

Once painting was complete, we embarked on book design, a complex collaborative process that spanned about three months. Led by Mike “Sully” Sullivan of Three Speed Creative, the Umijoo storyboard was, piece by piece, transformed into an actual book layout. Sully spent hours tinkering with fonts, pin lines, sizing, and all of the other details that make Umijoo what it is today.

We submitted the first draft of our creation to our printer, Worzalla, in November of 2018. What followed was about six weeks of adjusting and editing the dozens of intricate moving pieces that Umijoo comprises. The cover alone took us several drafts and a number of restarts to get to where we wanted it to be. In fact, the cover design on Umijoo is so demanding that our printer was forced to subcontract the production of that piece to another house that specializes in foil and cover treatment work, and even that house had to buy a new machine in order to achieve the effect we wanted. The final product is something that Sully, Caia, and myself could not be happier with.
The Actual Printing Press for The Umijoo Book
Printing itself took several days and a great deal of attention and work on the part of the Worzalla team. We couldn’t believe it when they sent us pictures of the press and we saw the beautiful sea creature images that are used to indicate the printing colors!

Once production was complete, the books were organized into several shipments and sent out by truck. I drove down to Seattle to pick up my shipment, and the feeling I had when first holding the book in my hand is something that I cannot fully describe in words. I laughed and cried at the same time.

After receiving the books, we embarked on fulfilling the many outstanding crowdfunding orders (352 copies). I’d like to add here that we are very sorry that Caia and I were not both able to sign the books that went out to our supporters. Because of our budget, time constraints, and the logistical realities posed by shipping heavy crates of books around the country, the books came to Washington State where I signed them and sent them out. We sincerely apologize that Caia was not also able to sign those books, and as we have said before, if you are a Patreon or Indiegogo supporter who would like your book signed by Caia, she is more than happy to do that for you. Please contact us and we can work with you to make that happen.

Umijoo is now available on Amazon, at many leading ocean conservation establishments (such as the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Aquarium of the Pacific, and California Academy of Sciences) and a growing number of independent bookstores. It is such a wonderful feeling to see how many organizations and individuals are rallying to the call and helping to spread Umijoo’s story of love, balance, and responsibility.

If you are associated with or have contacts at a retailer that could be a good home for Umijoo, please let us know! You can always reach me at [email protected]

This is just the beginning of the story for Umijoo — we have so much more planned and can’t wait to share it with you soon!

The Pre-sale is Here

The Pre-sale is Here

The time is finally upon us… The Umijoo Book has made its way to pre-press and we are EXCITED!!

20 original paintings created to illustrate the Umijoo story have been completed and the book is ready for pre-sale!!

The book can be pre-ordered directly from the Indiegogo campaign. Additionally, one can avail themselves not only to pre-order the Umijoo Book as well as some of the cool prints and accessories which come with the pre-sale launch, but the original artwork which illustrates the story! (more…)

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