The Big Beach Cleanup by Charlotte Offsay and Katie Rewse

Hello, Charlotte Offsay! Welcome to Watch. Connect. Read. Thank you for stopping by to discuss and celebrate The Big Beach Cleanup, a picture book that will help start meaningful conversations in classrooms and libraries about how we can make a difference in our communities. Cora definitely makes a difference. Please tell everyone about Cora.

Charlotte Offsay: Thank you very much for your warm welcome and for having me here! I really appreciate your kind words!

Cora is the main character of my debut picture book, The Big Beach Cleanup, illustrated by Katie Rewse. She is a young girl who plans to be a sandcastle-building champion, but when the contest is canceled due to litter at the beach, her plans come to a halt. Cora and her Mama pull on gloves and get to work, but soon Cora realizes it will take more than two pairs of hands to solve a big problem. Cora works to rally her community to clean the beach, save the sandcastle competition and to create lasting change.

Scenario: You just finished reading The Big Beach Cleanup to 200 2nd graders in a school library located in Camden, Maine. Their teacher-librarian asks you to share three things we can do to prevent what happens at the beginning of The Big Beach Cleanup.

Charlotte Offsay: I love speaking to children and would be thrilled to share with them. Through my conversations with ocean advocacy group Heal the Bay, I have learned that, while recycling is important, there are three other “R”s that are perhaps even more important:

“Rethink” disposable plastics and single-use items

“Reduce” use of plastics whenever possible

“Reuse” your own containers and bags whenever possible

Please finish the following sentence starters:

Katie Rewse’s illustrations are a dream come true. Katie is an ocean advocate herself (her portfolio already contained a beach cleanup scene!) and from the moment I first saw her artwork I knew that she would take The Big Beach Cleanup to a whole new level. I was blown away by her illustrations and am head over heels for her use of color and the way she evokes emotion. The spread of Cora and her mother on the bench when Cora struggles to find people to help her efforts makes my breath catch every time I see it!

Nancy Shrodes and Sarah Kollar are two ocean advocacy experts who generously lent their expertise to this book. I am extremely grateful for their time and commitment to our oceans.

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me if there really are live animals coming to The Big Beach Cleanup launch event. Yes, there are! Heal the Bay has generously agreed to attend my virtual launch event on March 6th and to do a live animal feeding! It is being hosted by my favorite indie bookstore Children’s Book World LA, and you can learn more about it by clicking here.

There is a lot of work to be done to prevent trash from ending up in the ocean. But big changes start with small steps. Like Cora, you can make a difference.

Thank you, Charlotte! 

Charlotte Offsay was born in England, grew up in Boston, and currently lives in California with her husband and two small children. She is an active 12 x 12 and SCBWI member.

Photo credit: Andras Kim

Katie Rewse is an illustrator based on the south coast of the UK. She graduated from a Masters Degree in Illustration at the Arts University Bournemouth in 2017.

Look for The Big Beach Cleanup on March 23, 2021. 


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