Posted by: Kathy Temean | March 28, 2021

Book Giveaway: OCEAN SOUP by Meeg Pincus

Meeg Pincus has written a new picture book, OCEAN SOUP illustrated by Lucy Semple and published by Sleeping Bear Press  It is available in bookstores nowSBP has agreed to share a copy with one lucky winner living in the United States.

All you have to do to get in the running is leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know other things you do to share the good news, so I can put the right amount of tickets in my basket for you.

Sharing on Facebook, Twitter or reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. So, thanks for helping Meeg and Pincus.

If you have signed up to follow my blog and it is delivered to you everyday, please let me know when you leave a comment and I will give you an extra ticket. Thanks!


From the shore, the ocean looks like clear, sparkling blue but look closely at a small scoop and you’ll find the ocean looks more like soup! Our oceans are filled with plastics, from water bottles and take-out containers to the teeny tiny plastic particles you need a microscope to see. But who exactly cooked up this stinky soup? And, more importantly, what is the recipe for getting (and keeping) our oceans clean? This bouncing, rhyming story pulls no punches about how we ended up in this sticky mess but also offers hope and help for cleaning up this ocean soup.


Phase One: The Concept

I’d wanted to write about ocean microplastics for young kids since I was working six years ago as a humane educator for a nonprofit, and one of the lessons I taught in elementary classrooms was on the topic. There wasn’t a picture book on it but I knew from teaching it that young kids can “get” it and be inspired to action. And I knew from learning about the microplastics problem that our youngest generation needs to understand it!

But, how to write it? I thought about profiling the two scientists we used in the lesson, who are incredibly inspiring. But this one felt more like a topical book than a PB bio-type book to me. So, I brainstormed for a while and kept coming back to the concept of “Ocean Soup” and a recipe book. I started to draft it as a recipe of how “we” created Ocean Soup.

Phase Two: Rhyming? Really?!

As I was writing the recipe, it kept coming to me in rhyme. “Noooo!” I thought to myself, remembering all the warnings about avoiding rhyme (unless you could do it really, really well). But the rhymes wouldn’t leave me. And I realized rhyming actually was an effective way to lighten up this heavy topic, to make it more accessible to young kids. So, there was a real reason to use it, but I needed to do it really, really well.

I’d written poetry throughout my life, but I needed a refresher on metered rhyme, and knew just where to turn. I enrolled in Renée LaTulippe’s online crash course in meter and rhyme and worked through all the lessons. My meter came quite naturally but I worked on making sure it was accurate and the rhymes weren’t forced or too trite.

Phase Three: Finding the POV

When I sent my first full draft of Ocean Soup to my critique partners, in a second-person, rhyming how-to recipe, one worried that kids would feel guilty that they made this problem happen. I had worried about that, too, so it validated my concern. (Here’s to great CPs!) It really wasn’t kids who created this mess, but adults and industries from generations before them.

So, I switched the POV from second-person to third-person. I revised it into sharing a “recipe” that had occurred before kids’ time (basically the history of microplastics turning oceans into “soup”), then called on kids to be “new chefs” with a “new recipe” to help turn it around. That really, finally, clicked and my agent gave it the green light to sub!

I was thrilled when Sarah Rockett at Sleeping Bear Press, my editor for Winged Wonders and Miep and the Most Famous Diary, acquired it.

Phase Four: The Perfect Illustrator

I have to admit, I was worried about how someone could effectively illustrate this poem/story. (Truth is, another editor loved the poem but passed because she just couldn’t visualize the illustrations.) Though it’s a fun, simple rhyme scheme, it’s also a long, complex poem based on science and history. How could an illustrator keep it light-hearted for kids and still get across the problem and the science? It was not an easy task!

But, Sarah had a vision and she found an illustrator who did, too—Lucy Semple. I was so grateful that they could visualize it, and when I saw Lucy’s first sketches, I got teary-eyed with joy and relief. It was perfect! Just the right balance of everything and I was in love.

Phase Five: Revisions

Revisions included two experts who both really upped the challenge and the quality of this book.

The first expert I consulted was poet/teacher Renée LaTulippe. I hired her with a portion of my advance, and the blessing of my editor, to make sure my metered rhyme was really, really good. And she did! She pushed me on my word choices, syllabic emphases, and more, and my first revision with her took the poetry to a new level. Then Sarah and I took it from there.

(Now, I believe this: Rhyming in PBs is fine to do, but for most of us it takes an investment—of time and effort for sure, and sometimes some money—to make sure it’s done really, really well!)

The second expert involved in our revision was our scientist expert reader. I was thrilled when one of those two scientists I’d taught about in that lesson years back agreed to do it! He read it like a scientist and pushed me on the science. Specifically, he wanted me to make clearer the fact that microplastics really can’t just be “cleaned up.” This meant I had to revise tight, metered rhyme, with illustrations already in place, to get this scientific message across. I can’t tell you how many hours that took! But I finally made it work, he and Sarah both approved, and I feel really good with the result.

Check out Ocean Soup and see for yourself!

About Meeg:


Meeg Pincus is the author of acclaimed trade nonfiction picture books about “solutionaries” who help people, animals, and the planet—including Winged Wonders (Golden Kite Honor Award Winner, Eureka! Honor Award Winner, Kirkus Best Picture Books of 2020), Miep and the Most Famous Diary (A Mighty Girl Best Books of 2019, Kirkus and School Library Journal starred reviews, “highly recommended” by the Jewish Book Council), and Cougar Crossing and Ocean Soup in 2021. She has also authored leveled readers, including 17 in the Itty-Bitty Bios series, for school/library publishers.

Meeg is a long-time nonfiction writer/editor (from newspapers and magazines to books), an educator (from university and elementary classrooms to SCBWI and Writing Barn workshops), and a diverse books advocate (highlighted on her website/blog Solutionary Stories: She grew up and lives with her family in Southern California and can be found online at



Lucy Semple is an illustrator based in Nottinghamshire, having graduated with a degree from Loughborough University in Graphic Communication and Illustration.

She always dreamed of one day slotting into a creative career, as a child she would either be using the family video camera to direct a rendition of a Roald Dahl poem or have her head firmly buried in a book. Specialising in children’s illustration she now enjoys channeling that creative energy into drawing bright, bold and often furry characters.

When she isn’t bringing her scribbled creations to life, Lucy enjoys drinking considerable amounts of tea, baking and cuddling up to watch a film with her partner, daughter and their grumpy tom cat Nim.

Meeg, thank you for sharing your book and journey with us. I have a copy of this book and I love the way you walked us through how the problem started and how we help save the ocean. It is am important topic and one that presented in a fun way. Lucy did a wonderful job with the illustrations that are sure to make kids wanting to turn every page. Good luck with the book.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Thank you both so much for this important book! I happen to be on Maui right now where there are trees covered with plastic bags that have blown from the dump, all too close to the ocean and precious marine life. Maui has banned plastic bags, but plastic containers are everywhere! Fingers crossed for more eco-friendly plastic-banning legislation!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a wonderful and important book! Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am always excited about Meeg’s books, and this one is no exception. I love how she shares working with experts. It’s so important! I get this blog in my inbox and I will share on both Twitter and Faceook. Thank you, Meeg and Kathy!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Meeg, congrats! This sounds like a fantastic books. You can never have too many books teaching kids the importance of protecting our oceans. (I’m subscribed to the emails as well.)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Congrats, Meeg–such a powerful and necessary book for kids (and adults–I am hyper-alert to all the plastic pollution, especially while enjoying nature with my dogs). And you worked with the poetry master, Renée–love her inspiring advice. Kathy, I receive your daily blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is an incredible journey for this important picture book. I am amazed at the amount of work behind it. I can’t wait to read this as the ocean and beaches are my favorite places on Earth. I’m an email subscriber and shared on pinterest, tumblr, twitter, and Facebook:

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I have been looking forward to this book – it is so important to raise awareness about ocean pollution and even more important to empower kids to be part of the solution!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Looks great! Such a good and fun way to teach kids the importance of clean beaches and waters. I’d love to have a copy.
    I’ve tweeted:, and shared on Pinterest:
    I also follow daily by email: crs(at)codedivasites(dot)com
    Have a great day everyone!!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Meeg and Lucy, what a perfect book, especially with more folks headed to the beach for vacation! BRAVO.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. This seems like a really god way to get the message to youngsters about this important issue. Thanks for the post. I receive your posts by email each day.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Much needed. Thanks for sharing your journey.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Yes, plastics are a huge issue. Thanks for writing this important book, Meeg!! And thanks to Lucy for bringing it to life, visually!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Congratulations, Meeg, and thank you for writing such an important book! I grew up along the ocean so I can understand the importance of this subject.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Thanks for this timely book! Congratulations!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Thanks for this great review. The book is sitting by any side at the moment, awaiting a review on my own blog. It is a delight and even more welcome following this home-bound, beach-deprived year we’ve all experienced. I adore the illustrations, and the diverse characters convey just the right amount of dismay, energy, and joy to compliment the lively text.
    This is a great book t pair with an earlier OCEAN SOUP- with tide pool poems, by Stephen Swinburne, and The Old Boat, a very recent book by Jarrett Pumphrey. I’ll be sharing your post on Twitter and I already subscribe to your excellent blog. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. What a timely and important book! Thanks for sharing the story behind the story.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Such a great book with great info -thanks for sharing your amazing story! Congrats!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Thank you so much for this post, Kathy, and thanks to everyone for your comments and for supporting our book (it means the world!)!


  19. I loved reading all the different steps from idea to completion. The book looks beautiful, congrats!


  20. thanks for the inside scoop on Meg’s new book. Particularly interesting to hear how she went to school to learn more about rhyme and meter. No need to add my name to the giveaway; I have my own copy from SBP to review and give away.


  21. Big thanks to Meeg and the whole talented team that brought this important and beautiful book to life. I loved reading about all the revisions and reviews. I can’t wait to see it! I’d love to win a copy here and I subscribe to the email.


  22. Wow, this sounds great! I love visiting nice clean beaches. This book could help encourage readers to make them stay that way! Congratulations!

    I follow by email and I will tweet this, Kathy. 🙂


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