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Sea-weeding out bland art books

August 18, 2004

Alicia Robinson

Toothpaste, dog food and chocolate syrup have one thing in common:

They're all made with kelp, according to a new coloring book that

Orange County CoastKeeper is distributing to local children.

CoastKeeper biologist Nancy Caruso created the coloring book with

students in a cartooning class at Orange Coast College. It introduces

children to Garry Garibaldi -- the garibaldi is the state marine fish

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-- and his undersea friends, Albert Abalone and Laura Lobster.

Children also learn about the parts of a kelp plant, what kelp is

used for and how to protect kelp forests.

The coloring books were created for the Orange County Water

District's children's water education festival in May, when 12,000 of

the books were handed out. Visitors to the Orange County Fair last

month were offered coloring books and CoastKeeper will give them to

local schools and send them out with the upcoming second issue of its

new magazine.

Though she does not profess any art skills herself, Caruso came up

with the coloring book concept and sketched out some ideas for the

students, who created the characters and story line.

"We loved it," Caruso said. "It was a great collaboration."

She wanted to focus on kelp because one of CoastKeeper's major

efforts has been restoration of the giant kelp forests native to

Southern California's coast.

The coloring book was a win-win endeavor, with CoastKeeper and

Orange Coast College students benefiting, fine arts professor Mike

Beanan said. He seeks out community-based projects to give students

hands-on experience with the art and business aspects of cartooning

and to help the community, he said.

"What we wanted to do was produce some educational art to expose

children to the fundamental ecology of the kelp forest," Beanan said.

"While they're laughing at the funny fish, they're really learning

fairly sophisticated information."

The printing of the coloring book was paid for by corporate

sponsors including the Marriott Hotel in Newport Coast and Sempra

Energy, Orange County CoastKeeper Executive Director Garry Brown

said.

The response has been so good that CoastKeeper may create another

coloring book on a different topic.

"It's a nice way to get a message across to young children," Brown

said. "We're always looking for educational tools that work."

Garry Garibaldi is modeled on Brown, at least as much as a fish

can resemble a person, Caruso said. She also appears in the coloring

book as Nancy the earth biologist, clad in hiking gear, and Nancy the

ocean biologist, underwater with a diver's mask and fins. So does the

cartoon resemble her in real life?

"I'm a little taller, I guess," she said.

Garry Garibaldi coloring books can be obtained by calling Orange

County CoastKeeper at (949)723-5424, or it can be viewed online and

printed at http://www.coastcartoonstudio.com.

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