OCEAN LULLABY – Our New Picture Book Launches May 18

APRIL 7 UPDATE: The original May 4 launch date launch has been changed to May 18.

A year before we all retreated to our houses, our family spent an idyllic week at a little resort on Maui’s Napili coast. Our visit coincided with that of a group of retirees from Canada and the US who had met there on previous trips and now regularly return the first week of February. One of them is a singer/guitarist who has a one-man show in Las Vegas. Their tradition is to circle the lounge chairs on the lawn above the beach one night for a sing along. They invited us to join in. He played all the best love songs. We sang. We danced. We rocked our grandchildren on our laps as the sun went down and a crescent moon rose.

That’s when the first lines of OCEAN LULLABY came to me. Song floats up, moon smiles down while we rock to ocean sounds. Shhh, hush. Shhh, hush. The ocean’s soothing song. Shhh, hush. Shhh, hush. We can sing along.

Then I looked out across the surf and started wondering. What do ocean creatures do as night falls? Do they sleep? Do they dream?

That’s how the story progresses.

I learned that adult whales buoy their calves so the calves can continue to breathe while they rest.

After grouping turtles and jellyfish on the same spread, I found out turtles eat jellyfish, so I quickly erected a coral structure to keep them apart.

A diver at the Maui Aquarium told me that resting octopusses (his preferred plural) have a brain pattern similar to humans when they are dreaming.

The monk seals are my favorite spread. As soon as I saw a reference photo with the little guy waving, I wanted to include them.


On May 18 this year – over two years after our trip to Napili beach – OCEAN LULLABY will be published by Philomel. It is the third book my sister Kate Harvey McGee and I have illustrated together. I paint the black lines with a gouache resist technique, doozy them up in Photoshop and email them to Kate who lives near Philomath, OR. She’s a retired landscape architect, now pastel plein air painter, who colors our illustrations in Photoshop. I am so lucky to collaborate with her. I love the way she paints light.

One of the reasons I like to make picture books is because I love my work to be part of a remembered magical circle: those times with my kids, snuggled in the big chair, the neighborhood settling quiet around us, the warmth of their small selves on my lap as we enter a story together. OCEAN LULLABY was crafted for that circle. It ends:

You my sweet, my sleepy child, rest here in my arms awhile. As the new moon rides the sky, dream the ocean lullaby. Shhh, hush. Shhh, hush. Shhhhh…

We hope to set up a zoom event for an official launch soon. Meanwhile, OCEAN LULLABY will be available for sale at all the usual places after May 18. It offers a window to the big world that’s waiting for us out there when the Covid days are over: a world full of dozing whales, dreaming octopuses, snoring monk seals, family and friends.

27 responses to “OCEAN LULLABY – Our New Picture Book Launches May 18

  1. Laura and Kate, congratulations on creating a gorgeous book with beautiful words and art. I love hearing about the collaboration on the art.

  2. Beautiful. Congratulations, Laura. Ocean Lullaby is on my list now..

    • laurakvasnosky

      Thanks, Uma! I see you have a new one coming out in August:
      Threads of Peace: How Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. Changed the World. Sounds wonderful.

  3. Laura, this looks like a beautiful book. Can’t wait for the release so I can have some “ocean” with me here in MN. Congratulations!!!

    • laurakvasnosky

      Thanks, Chris! Did you notice the Springer Spaniel in the beach first beach scene? I think the beach is Izzi’s favorite place. With all those lakes in MN, you have lots of beaches, if not palm trees.

  4. Julie Paschkis

    This post makes me want to jump into your book and into the ocean. Congratulations!

    • laurakvasnosky

      Thanks, Julie. I am unendingly grateful for the help of our critique group in bringing this idea to fruition. We are so lucky to have each other all these years.

  5. Laura, you took me back to our trips to the same bay, at a small resort that has a wonderful sense of community. I’m looking forward to getting the book to share with my grandchildren who were very young the year we discovered this peaceful spot.

    • laurakvasnosky

      It is such a beautiful part of the world. I hope this book can take us back there whenever we open its pages.

  6. Such a lovely story, with illustrations to match.Congratulations, Laura & Kate.

  7. Evokes heartwarming memories of family, music and that gorgeous landscape. Nothing could be finer!

    • laurakvasnosky

      Music makes everything better. Certainly our Mother Pluckers ukulele crew has been a light in this long homebound tunnel. Thank you for keeping us organized.

  8. Laura, such a gorgeous book! I really look forward to getting it. Congratulations to both you and your sister.

  9. Oh, Laura, what a beautiful book to share with my very young grand nieces in land-locked Pittsburgh! And I think my Covid recovering 78 yr old husband and I should rest and recreate in this bay!

    • laurakvasnosky

      Don’t you love how books can take us to other places? Glad to hear your husband is getting better — I do highly recommend the Napili coast for recovery!

  10. Laura – Your wonderful book recalls our magical family time on Maui. I’m so glad you can share that with others!

  11. Beautiful, Laura! This book will create some new magic for families.

    • laurakvasnosky

      Thanks, Bonny. You well know that it would not be the book it is without all the help of our wonderful BATTies. Thanks for all the good thought and support over the years.

  12. Truly one of the big joys of my life to collaborate with you on our books. I especially love the rock and sway to the poetry of this book.

  13. Lovely, Laura! ❤❤

    On Fri, Mar 26, 2021 at 6:34 AM Books Around The Table wrote:

    > laurakvasnosky posted: ” A year before we all retreated to our houses, our > family spent an idyllic week at a little resort on Maui’s Napili coast. Our > visit coincided with that of a group of retirees from Canada and the US who > had met there on previous trips and now regularly re” >

  14. Looks so lovely and peaceful. Congrats on completing the long journey it takes make a picture book!

  15. Beautiful, Laura! Makes me want to go to the beach and listen!

  16. Gretchen Hansen

    Looks and sounds so lovely, Laura! Ocean Lullaby is wonderful way to ease out of the pandemic with a dreamy song.

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