age range: 8-12
genre / topics: contemporary fiction; scientific research, environment, pollution
Nora Raleigh Baskin’s website
Gae Polisner’s website
“Superlative writing and character development uplift this timely story . . . An inspiring tale of friendship and conservation.”
―Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“With nonstop action . . . and empathetic characters, this is a fast, fun read. A sure winner for readers interested in the environment and adventure, or even just in adventure.”
―School Library Journal
“A breath of fresh air. Clever plotting sprinkled with humor and accessible STEM references made this a joyful, bingeable adventure you won’t want to put down.”
―Christine Taylor-Butler, author of The Lost Tribes series
Jeremy JB “I’ll Handle This” Barnes and Sidney (not the doctor yet) Miller have requested to respond to this interview on their own rather than their creators. We hope that’s okay!
Please tell us about your book.
JB: It’s hard and rectangular and has like 250 pages. Hahaha. Okay fine. We had the wackiest thing happen. You won’t believe it. We wouldn’t either if it hadn’t happened to us. So we wanted to tell the story. It’s a fun ride, right, Sid?
Sidney: Well, as Carl Jung would say, it was synchronicity, meaning a random incident that doesn’t feel random at all because it is so meaningful. Jeremy and I met because of a case of mistaken identity. We found ourselves in the middle of the Pacific Ocean– we learned a lot of science –we became great friends– and together in our small but miraculous way did our part to clean up the world’s ocean.
What inspired you to write this story?
JB: Well, our creators had both listened to the same interview about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch on NPR (blah, blah, blah) and wanted to send us to live there. But you can’t live on the patch – duh! – even if it’s twice the size of Texas and they do call it an island.
Sidney: I know right? Funny, that those two first thought that the Great Pacific Garbage Pile was actually a solid island. But they are grown-ups, so what can you expect?
Could you share with readers how you conducted your research or share a few interesting tidbits you learned while researching?
JB: Okay, well, there are Dry Labs and Wet Labs on the ship, and every day the SEAMester kids are aboard, crew members Randi, Sabira, Henry, and some of the others conduct lessons, so we learn about things like ghost nets (where all the big pieces of garbage floating get caught along with fish who die there) and how microplastics almost too small to see are destroying our oceans. But don’t worry, we’re going to help fix this. You’ll see.
Sidney: And, first hand we got to see the really wacky scientists, who don’t wear lab coats and thick glasses, but earbuds and beanies, and sometimes do yoga or chin-ups while they are waiting for water to drip through a filter.
What were some special challenges associated with writing Consider the Octopus?
JB: Honestly, I don’t know what any of that means. But, the comedy here just wrote itself. I mean, can you even believe how all of this started? But I’m way smarter today than I was when I managed to create that major fiasco!!! See? I even know the word fiasco now. And synchronicity. 😛
Sidney: The challenge was mostly getting Jeremy to realize he really is smart, and really does have something to offer the world. I think when you read the story of us, you’ll totally see what I mean. He can be goofy but it’s just a front.
What topics does your book touch upon that would make it a perfect fit for the classroom?
JB: Everything. I mean, environmental stuff I never knew about before and care about now, for starters. And if I care, who won’t? And, I mean, I do really care.
Sidney: Dr. Ruth once said: A lesson taught with humor is a lesson well learned. That was sure true for Jeremy and me. We still laugh when we get together (once a year) or text about what happened. We tweet about it too. . . if you want to follow us on Twitter!
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