James and I are a husband and wife, author and illustrator team. We have two boys aged 5 and 7 who provide an endless source of inspiration for the books we create together.
When our youngest son was two, I was watching Blue Planet 2 with him as he loved all the sea creatures. However, when the episode about plastic in the ocean came on, he couldn’t tell the difference between the plastic and the fish. Of course neither can the creatures that live in our seas, which is why they get tangled up in it, eat it and sometimes die because of it.
I decided to write a story about a little fish who finds what she thinks is an odd, lonely sea creature but what readers will recognise is a plastic bottle. Little Fish becomes determined to reunite this Odd Fish with its family and along the way meets a seahorse, octopus and turtle who have all encountered some plastic too.
When I was little, I never thought about the plastic bottles I used or the cling film I wrapped my packed lunch sandwiches in. It just didn’t occur to me to wonder about what happened to the plastic I recycled or threw into the bin. I had no idea until recently that less than 10% of all the plastic that is put into recycling in the UK today is actually recycled. Most of it is either burnt or sent abroad to be buried in landfills.
The statistics around plastic in the ocean are terrifying. One rubbish trucks worth of plastic is dumped in the ocean every minute of every day. By 2050 the ocean will contain more plastic by weight than fish and they’ve now found microplastic in human blood. Since moving to Cornwall, we are more aware than ever of the impact of plastic pollution in our seas, every single time we go to the beach we find plastic washed up on the shore, from recognisable items like bottle top lids, facemasks and food wrappers to unrecognisable tiny pieces of plastic called nurdles.
James and I really hope that The Odd Fish provokes discussion between children and their parents and teachers. We would love for it to inspire readers to take action to help reduce the plastic in our oceans. We’ve included some information at the end of the book about how children can make a difference, from picking up litter, to asking their grown ups to use less single use plastic and asking their schools to take part in the Surfers Against Sewages’ Plastic Free Schools and Nurseries programme.
As I write this, the end of term is fast approaching and many families will be planning to go away on holiday this summer. It would be wonderful if everyone reading this encourages their family to not just take all their litter away with them if they go to the beach, but to do a 2 minute beach clean as well and collect any other rubbish that they find too.
If everyone who reads this makes just one small change, it will add up to a big difference. James and I both hope that The Odd Fish makes people think twice about the plastic they use and where it goes when they’ve finished with it. After all, I want all of our children to grow up in a world where in 2050 there is still more fish than plastic in the ocean and not the other way around.
You can buy The Odd Fish here:
You can watch The Odd Fish being read here:
You can sign your school or nursery up to be a Plastic Free School and Nursery here:
You can follow Naomi & James here:
Naomi Jones is a children’s author and editor who lives in Cornwall. Her other picture books include The Perfect Fit, One More Try and How to Catch a Rainbow. She loves reading, swimming in the sea and playing netball.