I’m Erin Dealey, and I write books for kids. I’m a teacher, presenter, rhymer, blogger, and proud Drama Mama.

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Happy Book Birthday to WASHED ASHORE: Making #Art from Ocean Plastic + 5 Qs with author / photographer Kelly Crull

March 1, 2022

We are Marching forward on the blog with a Book Birthday celebration that “the kids in Room 5” and I have been excited about for months.

WASHED ASHORE: Making Art from Ocean Plastic

by author/photographer Kelly Crull (Millbrook / Lerner) hits the shelves TODAY!

Isn’t this cover fabulous?

“An excellent work on an unusual topic and a must for school and library shelves.”–Booklist

“Washed Ashore is a “first choice” selection for elementary and middle-grade librarians for use in art classrooms as well as science and English Language Arts (ELA)!”

-Melanie Dulaney, Librarian
WASHED ASHORE by Kelly Crull (Millbrook); photo credit: Crull / Sculpture by Angela Haseltine Pozzi


In WASHED ASHORE, author / photographer Kelly Crull highlights fourteen incredibly mind-blowing sculptures created by Angela Haseltine Pozzi. Each spread features common objects hidden among the debris for readers to find, as well as facts about the ocean animals in the book, and tips about how readers can reduce plastic use, hold a beach cleanup and make their own plastic art.

WASHED ASHORE by Kelly Crull (Millbrook); photo credit: Crull / Sculpture by Angela Haseltine Pozzi

Sculptor Angela Haseltine Pozzi and her Washed Ashore organization gather trash from beaches, using it to create one-of-a-kind sculptures of wildlife. These sculptures travel the country to teach people about the importance of these animals―and the problems caused by plastic pollution.

And now there’s a book about them by Kelly Crull.

How did this book happen?

Q 1.    After you and your kids first discovered the amazing ocean trash sculpture of Angela Haseltine Pozzi at the zoo, what came next in creating what eventually became your book, WASHED ASHORE: Making Art From Ocean Plastic—research? A first draft? outline? Connecting with the Washed Ashore organization?

Kelly Crull: The very first thing I did was a quick web search to make sure no one else had already written a book about the Washed Ashore Project. I’ll often have an idea for a book only to discover that someone else already had the idea and wrote the book before I did. In this case, I didn’t find any books about Washed Ashore, so I began to research. 

I love to do research because one of my absolute favorite things is learning about something I don’t know anything about. I knew very little about the problem of ocean plastic before I began working on the book, which was the perfect excuse to learn everything I could about a subject that interested me. 


Kelly Crull: I like to research a topic from all kinds of different angles and viewpoints. I make sure to research the opposing viewpoint as well, so in this case, people who would say ocean plastic isn’t a big problem. In the end, I might not agree with their perspective, but I always learn something I didn’t know. 

WASHED ASHORE by Kelly Crull (Millbrook); photo credit: Crull / Sculpture by Angela Haseltine Pozzi

Q 2.    Which of the sculptures in the book might best represent your #kidlit journey thus far?

Kelly Crull: I have a soft spot for Priscilla the parrotfish, so naturally, I would compare my #kidlit journey to her! At first glance, parrotfish might not seem to be doing much at all, but if you take a closer look, you’ll notice that they are nibbling away at the coral reef. If you do a little research, you’ll discover that they are cleaning the coral reef by nibbling away the dead coral and making space for new coral to grow. They grind up the dead coral with their super-strong teeth, and it comes out the other end as sand. That’s right, parrotfish make sand! A single parrotfish can produce enough sand in one year to fill an entire sandbox.

Just keep going.

Kelly Crull: What does all of this have to do with me? Well, I don’t work particularly fast, but I just keep at it. I never stop. Sometimes the thought of writing and illustrating a whole book can seem quite overwhelming, so it helps me is to just take it one day at a time, nibbling away, piece by piece, until months later I’ve surprised myself with a new book!

WASHED ASHORE by Kelly Crull (Millbrook); photo credit: Crull / Sculpture by Angela Haseltine Pozzi

Q 3.    What was the biggest challenge in creating this book, WASHED ASHORE?

Kelly Crull: The most challenging part of making the book was taking the photographs of the sculptures. First of all, I had to find the sculptures! There are over 80 of them, and they are constantly moving around the country. I live in Spain, so I had to try to find a time when all the sculptures in the book were near enough to each other that I could take pictures of them in one trip.

I finally set the date to take the pictures, but by the time the day came to leave on my trip, Oregon was experiencing wildfires, protests, and a pandemic! Up until the moment I was standing in front of the tiger shark sculpture in the Oregon Zoo, I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to get the pictures I needed for the book. I do love adventure, and in the end, everything turned out great. I even got to share a special moment with the red pandas before the zoo opened to the public.

One of these masked wonders is Kelly Crull’s agent from East/West Literary. Can you guess which one?


Q 4. What unexpected discovery did you make while creating WASHED ASHORE?

Kelly Crull: I grew up in Iowa, which is a long way from the ocean. I guess I thought the plastic in the ocean was coming from people who lived along the coast. I didn’t really think it was my problem. So I was surprised to discover that most plastic in the ocean starts on land and is carried by wind and rain into streams, rivers, and storm drains, which empty into the ocean. We’re much more connected than we realize. Even kids living in Iowa can help keep plastic out of the ocean by carefully disposing of their waste. 

Find some plastic, pick it up…

WASHED ASHORE challenge: A few years ago, Kelly and his kids made a commitment to pick up at least one piece of plastic on their walks to and from school. Why not try this where you live?

As Kelly says, “It’s like a treasure hunt every day!”

Q 5.    I LOVE the innovative, find-the-items element in your book—encouraging readers to search for the household plastic objects used in each of the Pozzi sculptures. Aside from the FUN, what kinds of discussions do you hope will come from this activity?

Kelly Crull: Angela Haseltine Pozzi founded the Washed Ashore Project. Her story began with a walk on the beach. She picked up what she thought was a bone and discovered that it was a piece of plastic. She started to notice more plastic on her beach, and she realized she needed to do something about it. She was an artist and a teacher, so she used what she knew how to do best to solve the problem that was in front of her. She made beautiful sculptures out of the plastic she collected.

When people read my book, I hope they realize that small acts can create big change. We can use whatever it is that we like to do, even making art out of trash, to solve real problems. I wonder what it is that you love to do and how that activity might help solve the problems you see around you.



To learn more about Kelly Crull and his books (and cool photos & illustrations), check out KellyCrull.com.

You can also follow him on Twitter: @KellyCrull and Instagram: kellycrull

To find out more about the Washed Ashore Project go to WashedAshore.org.

PS #Teachers and #librarian friends…

I can’t help feeling that the kids in my book, DEAR EARTH…From your Friends in Room 5, would LOVE Kelly Crull’s WASHED ASHORE, and get inspired to make their own art from found items.

I bet your students will too!

**** Next on the blog–> Don’t miss our Book Birthday celebration for SUN & SON by Linda Joy Singleton.

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