Makana is a Gift – Book Signing and Reading at SBMM

COST: [Cost is free, but space is limited. Registration is required by emailing or online at:]
Organizer: Santa Barbara Maritime Museum
Posted by:Jessica

Continuing its book launch series and to kick off the international month-long challenge of “Plastic Free July,” the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum (SBMM) is pleased to host a book signing and reading for Makana is a Gift, a new children’s book, written by local award-winning author Janet Lucy and illustrated by Mexican watercolor artist Alexis Cantu. This special community event on Saturday, July 1, 2023 at 1:00 p.m. will take place on the museum’s patio. It will also include a brief discussion about the story, and a family art activity. Cost is free, but space is limited. Registration is required by emailing or online at:


About the Book

Makana is a Gift is the story of a little green sea turtle’s quest for identity and purpose, and an all-too-common life-threatening encounter with a plastic bag he mistakes for a jellyfish. Vibrant, life-like watercolor illustrations by Alexis Cantu introduce children to the undersea world and its diverse inhabitants. Through the story, children will learn about the biological beginnings of a sea turtle’s life as well as their ancient legacy, significance, and symbolism as well as the importance of ecological protection. The book also includes a “Discussion and Activities Guide” that explores the story’s themes as well as ways to eliminate plastic consumption. A “Resources” section lists ocean and sea turtle protection organizations worldwide plus more books on the topic for children and adults. Recommended for children ages 4 – 8, the book will inspire people of all ages and is available in both English and bilingual (Spanish-English) versions.

The turtle learns that all creatures are needed to help and care for each other, and he too has a unique and essential purpose—that life is a gift and so is he. In Hawaiian, Makana means gift, and thus he receives his name. Mary J. Donohue, Ph.D., marine biologist, and Ocean Plastics Expert at the University of Hawai’i at Mãnoa, described the story as “an undersea fable of self-discovery, punctuated by the tragedy of ocean plastic pollution, all set against a backdrop of beloved ocean creatures rendered in extraordinary watery splendor.”

Author Janet Lucy says, “Makana is a Gift offers timely themes of identity and belonging to explore with children as well as the call to ocean conservation. We can all play a part in protecting these magnificent, magical ocean creatures.”

Published by Seven Seas Press, an all-women-run nonprofit based in Santa Barbara, the book received a 2022 Book of the Year award in the category of Nature and Conservation from Creative Child Magazine.


About the Author

Janet Lucy, M.A., is an award-winning writer and poet, who has authored and co-authored numerous books. She is the author of three award-winning children’s books in English and Spanish–The Three Sunflowers/Los Tres Girasoles, Mermaid Dreams/Sueños de Sirena, and Makana is a Gift/Makana es un Regalo. In addition, she is the co-author of Moon Mother, Moon Daughter – Myths and Rituals that Celebrate a Girl’s Coming of Age and the new Moon Circles Facilitator’s Guide and the By the Light of the Moon companion journal. Her most recent publication is the Ukranian-English version of The Three Sunflowers

Janet, who holds a master’s degree in counseling psychology and a California teaching credential, is the director of Women’s Creative Network (WCN) in Santa Barbara, California, where she is a teacher and consultant, facilitates women’s writing groups, and leads local and international retreats. She is also a publishing partner at Seven Seas Press and can often be found in or near the water. Visit:

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