Long Island author releases new book for kids about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Gae Polisner, an author from Greenlawn, has recently been tweeting as a 12-year-old boy named Jeremy.

That’s because Jeremy is the main character in her seventh book — a middle-grade comedy called “Consider the Octopus” that’s set on a research ship stationed at the Great Pacific Garbage Patch floating in the Pacific Ocean.

Jeremy, a class clown who isn’t focused on academics, is forced to spend the summer before seventh grade onboard the Oceania II because his mother is a scientist working on the boat. “It’s the last place on Earth he wants to be,” Polisner says.

A farce ensues when Jeremy, tasked with sending email invitations to a global summit on board the ship, thinks he is sending an email invite to a Monterey Bay Aquarium scientist named Sidney Miller but accidentally sends it to a 12-year-old girl named Sidney Miller who uses an Octopus avatar and hosts a podcast nobody listens to. When she shows up, hilarity follows. “He’s hiding the girl until the climactic moment she gets discovered,” Polisner says.

As part of the April launch of the book (Henry Holt/Macmillan, $16.99), Polisner has been sending out daily tweets from Jeremy, and readers can tweet him back at @jbbarnescto.

Polisner is also encouraging readers to get involved in protecting Long Island waters and is hosting a beach cleanup from 9 to 11 am on May 14 at Sunken Meadow State Park Field 1 in conjunction with the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society, a Westhampton Beach-based group that promotes marine conservation islandwide through education, research and response. The back of the book has three pages of resources for how children can get involved.

Polisner and her co-author, Connecticut writer Nora Raleigh Baskin (who tweets as Sidney at @millysidner), were inspired to write a book about protecting the oceans after hearing an NPR broadcast about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and realizing how little they knew about it, Polisner says.

“We thought it was this island of garbage you could literally stand on,” Polisner says. “As adults not having really understood the plastic problem in the ocean, we thought kids wouldn’t really know this.”

The garbage patch area in the North Pacific Ocean is twice the size of the state of Texas; garbage collects due to the system of wind and currents, and plastics breaking down into smaller pieces that hurt birds and fish and sea turtles.

“These microplastics eventually get into the soil and our food,” Polisner says. “I knew none of this before I wrote the book.”

AMSEAS education coordinator Lindsey Reisz applauded the book’s mission. “I think a book like this is bringing great attention to the problem and ways people can get involved and make a difference,” Reisz says.

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