Spotlight on New Works by Santa Barbara County Writers


The moving story of a tiny green sea turtle’s quest for identity and purpose – and a life-threatening encounter with a plastic bag he mistakes for a jellyfish – comes to life in the new children’s book. Santa Barbara writer, Janet Lucy, Makana is a Gift/Makana is a Regalo. Featuring colorful watercolor illustrations by artist Alexis Cantu, this undersea tale connects young children to the world of the ocean and educates them about the dangers of plastic pollution.

Available in English and a bilingual Spanish/English version, local non-profit publisher Seven Seas Press has partnered with the Goleta Valley Library to raise funds to donate 400 books to children participating in their summer reading, on the theme “Oceans of possibilities”.

“Themes of identity and belonging are important for young children,” says Lucy, who earlier in July received the 2022 Book of the Year award from Creative children’s magazine in the Children’s Nature and Conservation Storybooks category. “Through Makana’s story, they can recognize the challenges they face. Makana is a gift offers children and families topical themes to explore together. May we all play a part in protecting these magnificent magical creatures.

Lucy’s previous children’s books include The Three Sunflowers/Los Tres Girasolesand Mermaid Dreams/Suenos de Sirena. She is also the author (together with Terri Allison, co-founder and former executive director of the Storyteller Children’s Center) of Moon Mother, Moon Daughter ~ Myths and Rituals that Celebrate a Daughter’s Coming of Age – a guide rooted in ancient traditions and timeless wisdom that uses the myths of the goddesses as the basis for each chapter.

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A story poem illustrated by Ann Lewin-Benham, Persil: a love story of a child for a puppy and plants, is the new children’s book from this local author, who is widely known for his six classic textbooks on how brain science presents itself in classroom practice. Illustrated by Karen Busch Holman, this story of a child, a dog and a plant combines simple rhyming stanzas with a message of hope – and a surprise ending. Lewin-Benham will read and talk about Parsley at Chaucer’s Books on Sunday, July 31 at 2 p.m. See

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Santa Ynez Valley author Dan Gerber has a new book of poetry, The end of Michelangelo, which comes out this fall. A lifelong practicing Zen Buddhist, Gerber is the award-winning author of more than a dozen books of poetry, fiction, essays, and memoirs, and his work has been included in The Best American Poetry and American Life in Poetry, among other collections. Often dark and always uplifting – an example, speaking of words on the page of his poem “On Dyslexia” is the line “You see them as they are; I see them as they become” – Gerber’s poems recognize both the fragility of the times we live in and how much we are still alive.

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Written in response to the lines of the great Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, local memoirist, poet, essayist, blogger and lecturer, Diana Raab’s new collection of poetry, An imaginary affair, is an intimate collection that celebrates the joys and pains inherent in the heart, while honoring the wisdoms and moods of Neruda’s poetry. Says Santa Barbara Poet Laureate Emma Trelles: “These poems remind us that to be alive is to try to balance joy and lamentation, and how, through this effort, we more deeply inhabit the world and ourselves.” See

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