NUDI GILL PIN-UP: Sea Clown

In preparation for NUDI GILL, my debut picture book release in September 2022, I will be blogging about nudibranchs monthly. My hope is that you, too, will fall in love with these colorful little critters. Without further ado, allow me to introduce you to September’s supermodel:

Triopha Catalinae

Photograph by Minette Layne from Seattle, Washington, USA – Salome

Check out that mustache! Unlike other dorid nudibranchs, the sea clown’s dorsal gills are not fully retractable. Triopha Catalinae is comfortable letting it all hang out!

Spotted Triopha, or Triopha maculata, photographed in Morro Bay, California by Robin Agarwal. Sourced from Flickr and shared via Creative Commons License.

The Sea clown also comes in opposite coloration. Which is your favorite? I can’t decide, but I’m loving these fall colors. Makes me crave a pumpkin latte.

Photograph by divindk
Santa Barbara, USA
. Sourced from Flickr and shared via Creative Commons License.

No clowning around, these nudibranchs are small. How many sea clowns could pile into a clown car? Probably all of them!

Who are you calling a clown?

The sea clown’s scientific name is derived from Santa Catalina Island, California, but you can find these nudibranchs in the Western Pacific from Mexico all the way to Alaska. They have also been found in costal areas of Japan and South Korea.

I hope you enjoyed meeting the Triopha Catalinae nudibranch. Stay tuned for October’s NUDI GILL Pin-Up!

Bonnie

Bonnie Kelso writes and illustrates books for children and adults that encourage individualism and brave self-expression. She facilitates art workshops for her local community and beyond. Her debut picture book, NUDI GILL, will be released in September, 2022. A lover of nature and travel, she can be found wandering about outside with her family whenever a good opportunity to do so presents itself.

NUDI GILL PIN-UP: Pteraeolidia Ianthina

In preparation for NUDI GILL, my debut picture book release in September 2022, I will be blogging about nudibranchs monthly. My hope is that you, too, will fall in love with these colorful little critters. Without further ado, allow me to introduce you to August’s supermodel:

Pteraeolidia Ianthina

A Serpent Pteraeolidia (Pteraeolidia ianthina). Halifax Point, Port Stephens, NSW. Photograph by Richard Ling.

A long serpentine body covered in blue, purple, green, or brown cerata (respiratory organs), earned this nudibranch the nickname of blue dragon. Its long winding body is reminiscent of a Chinese Dragon. So cool. Check out this mug. What a face!

Photograph by Sarah Han-de-Beaux. You have GOT to check out her website and amazing photographs, really!

What I find most astonishing about Pteraeolidia Ianthina is that is it solar-powered. Tesla has nothing on this baby! This nudibranch has developed a method of capturing and farming microscopic plants (known as zooxanthellae) right inside its own body. It’s a win-win relationship because the nudibranch provides protection for the plants and the plants help feed the nudibranch with the sugars they convert from the sun’s energy. (Read more about this on The Sea Slug Forum.)

The more zooxanthellae, the greener the nudibranch appears.

Talk about going green!

You can find these fiercely fabulous nudibranchs throughout the Indo-Pacific.

I hope you enjoyed meeting the Pteraeolidia Ianthina Nudibranch. Stay tuned for September’s NUDI GILL Pin-Up!

Bonnie

Bonnie Kelso writes and illustrates books for children and adults that encourage individualism and brave self-expression. She facilitates art workshops for her local community and beyond. Her debut picture book, NUDI GILL, will be released in September, 2022. A lover of nature and travel, she can be found wandering about outside with her family whenever a good opportunity to do so presents itself.

NUDI GILL PIN-UP: Hopkin’s Rose Nudibranch

In preparation for NUDI GILL, my debut picture book release in September 2022, I will be blogging about nudibranchs monthly. My hope is that you, too, will fall in love with these colorful little critters. Without further ado, allow me to introduce you to July’s supermodel:

Hopkin’s Rose Nudibranch

Photograph by Jerry Kirkhart, Los Osos, CA

Bubble-gum pink papillae cover this beauty from head to toe. And now you are probably scratching your head and wondering, where’s the head and where’s the toe? Look closely for the two rhinophores poking out on the right end.

BINGO! That’s the head. A nudibranch’s toe (or foot) typically spans the length of its belly, but Rose’s mantle, head, and foot are kind of all merged together in one flattish base. Below is a cool shot of the edge of Rose’s foot/body/mantle. And in case you were wondering again which end you are looking at, well… those feathery bits are anal gills. So basically, she’s showing off her bodacious bum here.

Photograph by Robin Agarwal

Another unique thing about Rose is her extra-large middle tooth. Give us a smile, Rose!

Hubba Bubba!

You can find more of these cool creatures lurking in tidal pools all along the Pacific Coastline from Baja California to Oregon.

I hope you enjoyed meeting the Hopkin’s Rose Nudibranch. Stay tuned for August’s NUDI GILL Pin-Up!

Bonnie

Bonnie Kelso writes and illustrates books for children and adults that encourage individualism and brave self-expression. She facilitates art workshops for her local community and beyond. Her debut picture book, NUDI GILL, will be released in September, 2022. A lover of nature and travel, she can be found wandering about outside with her family whenever a good opportunity to do so presents itself.

NUDI GILL PIN-UP: Monterey Sea Lemon

In preparation for NUDI GILL, my debut picture book release in September 2022, I will be blogging about nudibranchs monthly. My hope is that you, too, will fall in love with these colorful little critters. Without further ado, allow me to introduce you to June’s supermodel:

The Monterey Sea Lemon

This little cutie may look like a sweet meyer, but you wouldn’t want to squeeze one over your shrimp cocktail. Nudibranchs have the ability to store toxins in their flesh from the food they eat (mostly sea sponges). The Sea Lemon’s bright yellow color is a warning to predators that they’d better think twice before messing with them.

Though they start out very small, this species can grow to be a whopping 15 cm long! Maybe they should be called Sea Bananas.

You can find these cool creatures lurking in tidal pools and up to depths of 50 meters all along the Pacific Coastline from San Diego, California to Kachemak Bay, Alaska.

I hope you enjoyed meeting the Monterey Sea Lemon. Stay tuned for July’s Nudi Gill Pin-Up!

Bonnie

Bonnie Kelso writes and illustrates books for children and adults that encourage individualism and brave self-expression. She facilitates art workshops for her local community and beyond. Her debut picture book, NUDI GILL, will be released in September, 2022. A lover of nature and travel, she can be found wandering about outside with her family whenever a good opportunity to do so presents itself.

Publishers, Contracts, and Sea Slugs, OH MY!

A lot has been happening over here behind the scenes. I’m preparing one of my babies to be launched into the world. Not a human one, thank goodness, because I’m so not ready for that milestone. I’m referring to a personal career milestone: One of my picture book’s has been acquired by Gnome Road Publishing, an Independent Publisher that is destined to make a big splash in the children’s book industry.

I couldn’t be more pleased to make this announcement. Sandra Sutter, the award winning author of Stan’s Frightful Halloween and The Real Farmer In The Dell, has dived into her passion for children’s literature by publishing a diverse list of picture books that beg to be read over and over again.

If you know me at all, you will remember that I am a lover of all things ocean, but especially the ittty-bitty nuidbranch, otherwise know as the sea slug. My debut picture book, NUDI GILL, will be coming out in the Fall of 2022. I’m so excited to share information about these fascinating creatures through the voice of a funny and fierce character like Gill.

Gill’s a little slug with big personality, but even he can be shy sometimes. Say “hi” to your future fans, Gill.

It’s been so much fun pouring over the photographs, websites, and books as I prepared my story and images. Special thanks to David W. Behrens, who wrote NUDIBRANCH BEHAVIOR, my favorite reference book of all time.

Of course, I also live in a house filled with my own paintings of nudibranchs. Yes, it’s been a long-time obsession, really, so it’s no surprise to me that NUDI GILL would be my breakthrough story.

It’s okay, Gill, you can come out now…

Wishing you all the best,

Bonnie

Bonnie Kelso writes and illustrates books for children and adults that encourage individualism and brave self-expression. She facilitates art workshops for her local community and beyond. A lover of nature and travel, she can be found wandering about outside with her family whenever a good opportunity to do so presents itself.

April and May

It’s Spring, and the kids and I have been rejuvenating our garden by planting vegetables and dusting off the fairy garden. I was also inspired to write an entry for the Spring Fling Kidlit Writing Contest hosted by Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez and Ciara O’Neal. It had to be 150 words or less inspired by a spring themed Gif. I hope you enjoy it!

Image by Sarah Richter from Pixabay.

(150 words)

April and May

by Bonnie Kelso

Being older, April knew things…

Things May wanted to know.

“April, how can I be smart like you?”

April twisted her hair around her finger.

“Drink rainwater from Tulip, May.”

Tulip was empty.

“April, what’s Spring?”

April rubbed her chin.

“Spring is what makes a bed good for jumping on.”

“April, why do early birds get the worms?”

April chewed a twig.

“Because worms don’t have eyes to see early birds hunting them.”

Thunder rumbled.

“April, what’s that?”

They gazed into the clouds.

“A giant is hungry! Hurry, let’s hide!”

Raindrops splink-splunked.

“April, what would happen if our wings got wet?”

“They’d melt like sugar drops, May.”

May stretched out her hand

and scooped up a drop of rainwater from Tulip.

“April, I’m ready to know things, too.”

Slurp!

“April, ask me a question, anything.”

“Who’s your favorite sister, May?”

“You!”

“See, May, I told you it would work!”

Bonnie

Bonnie Kelso writes and illustrates books for children and adults that encourage individualism and brave self-expression. She facilitates art workshops for her local community and beyond. A lover of nature and travel, she can be found wandering about outside with her family whenever a good opportunity to do so presents itself.

Puff and Groop

This year I’m trying to enter all the picture book writing contests I can. I’m determined to stretch myself creatively and besides, who can resist a chance at winning a prize? Here is my entry for Vivian Kirkfield’s 50 Precious Words contest, and as you might guess, my story had to be 50 words or less. Not as easy as it sounds when you also have to include a compelling story arc. So, without further ado, here is my uber-short fish tale.

Puff & Groop

by Bonnie Kelso

Puff is a small fish.

Groop is a BIG fish,
gobbling everything in his path,
never asking questions.

When Groop gulps down Puff,
Puff goes…

POOF!!!

“Oooooooh,” moans Groop.

Puff closes his mouth,
holding his water as long as he can.

Groop opens his mouth wide.

BELCH!

Out pops Puff!

###

There were a whopping 759 entries for this contest! To read them all go to Vivian Kirkfield’s website.

Bonnie

Bonnie Kelso writes and illustrates books for children and adults that encourage individualism and brave self-expression. She facilitates art workshops for her local community and beyond. A lover of nature and travel, she can be found wandering about outside with her family whenever a good opportunity to do so presents itself.

Seeking Courage

By Bonnie Kelso

Finding lost things was Riley’s specialty.

She found Mama’s keys!

A shiny penny.

Her sister’s doll.

“Here it is, Kara.”

Riley and Kara were playing hide-and-seek 

when Riley found Mama wrapped in a blanket.

“I’ve lost my job.” 

“I’ll help you find it!” said Riley. 

Mama hugged her tight.

Later Riley found

a stack of boxes

with Kara’s doll stuffed inside one. 

“We’re moving?” asked Riley.

“I’m sorry I couldn’t find your job.”

“I know moving is scary, Riley,

but we have to find courage,” said Mama. 

Riley looked everywhere,

but she couldn’t find courage.

She wished courage would find her.

At the shelter Riley counted to ten 

and opened her eyes.

She searched for Kara…

in every room,

in every closet,

and on the patio.

Cars zoomed in the street. 

Kara was lost!

Her heart beat faster.

“Kara!”

“We’re in here, Riley,” said Mama.

Kara was safe.

Riley collapsed.

“I can’t find my courage!”

Mama smiled.

“Riley, I found a job!” 

They squeezed each other tight.

In their new apartment they found wonderful things.

Soft blankets.

Friendly neighbors.

Kara discovered a new word, Riley.

Riley decided courage isn’t something you find.

It grows inside, little by little,

like making a friend,

learning new words,

or the feeling of home in a new place.

This story was submitted to Susanna Hill’s Valentiny Contest. The theme was BRAVE and the word count is 214 words (for February 14th).

Holiday Helpers: Susanna Hill’s 10th Annual Holiday Contest

I’m entering another contest! Why? Because I learn a lot when I step outside my writing comfort zone. For Susanna Hill’s Holiday Contest we were given the theme of “Holiday Helpers” to work with in 250 words or less. I hope you enjoy my entry, inspired by the endless amounts of tinsel around my house this year. Ho-ho-ho, everyone! 🙂

Sparkle 3000

The holidays are here and there’s so much to do!

Just me and my mom, we’re too small a crew.

How will we manage to cook, clean, and shop,

when I still have school and her work doesn’t stop?

Then Sparkle 3000 arrives at our door.

Arms like an octopus, he rolls on the floor.

He gets straight to work and says, “Please, excuse me.”

His lights blink and flash like our new Christmas tree.

He shakes out the carpets and dusts every shelf,

flashing and humming like a big metal elf.

He straightens and sweeps, tosses trash in the bin.

This robot works hard! It makes my head spin!

“He did it! It’s done!” All is shiny and new.

But Sparkle keeps going, even when we’re through.

So tired from watching, we collapse in our beds,

as gingerbread dreams dance in our heads. 

When morning arrives, I creep out to see

that Christmas is gone! “How can this be?

You took down our tree because it’s not neat?”

The presents and turkey are piled on the street!

“I want to be helpful.” Sparkle turns blue.

“I’ll learn to do better, I can watch you.”

I say, “We must fix this!” Sparkle’s lights flash.

“I’ll teach you the difference. Treasure or trash?”

A few hours later, Mom wakes and comes out.

“A perfect holiday,” she says without doubt.

I wink at Sparkle. “No working today.”

He slumps in a chair with one word, “Okay.”