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Laguna Beach

 Volume 13, Issue 31  |  April 16, 2021

Tom and Gayle Joliet’s children’s book, Alani and the Giant Kelp Elf, gains wide praise and distribution


Alani and the Giant Kelp Elf, recently published by Laguna Wilderness Press, is enjoying roaring success among young readers, and more and more retail outlets are stocking the impish book.

Tom and Gayle Joliet, longtime Lagunans, are beyond thrilled with the response. They collaborated on writing the story and both drew pencil sketches. Gayle created the watercolor paintings from the drawings.

“Our neighbor, Susan Weidhaas, bought almost 20 books to give to her 4-year-old son Max’s classmates,” the Joliets say. “The best part is hearing that Max asked for it to be read to him nine times in one day!”

tom and max

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Submitted photo

Max Weidhaas asked for the book to be read to him nine times in one day

In the story, Kelfie and his Kelp Elf Clan need help. Their underseas home, the giant kelp forest off the coast of Laguna Beach, is being destroyed by over-fishing and pollution. 

Can their human friend, Alani, help them find a solution so they won’t have to leave their homes forever? 

Hint: Yes! But to find out how she helps the Clan, kids will need to read the book.

“We felt it was important to educate kids about the Laguna Bluebelt and Greenbelt and the fact that they can make a difference to the health of our land and sea,” the Joliets say. “There are no children’s books about Laguna. So we decided to write one!”

tom and chrissie

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Submitted photo

Chrissie Booth and students: “Chrissie’s Corner” pre-school in San Clemente

Young Lila Davey recently read Alani and the Giant Kelp Elf, and she has this to say: “I thought it was an amazing book. It combines a wonderful story with information convincing readers to help the ocean. My favorite part is when Alani is looking out at the ocean and night. I love this part because the picture is so pretty and it gives me the feeling that everything is going to be OK. 

“I would most like to be Ali the cat because she gets to see everything and I love cats. All in all Alani and the Giant Kelp Elf is a wonderful book.”

The 64-page book, which took three years to complete, was inspired in part by South Laguna Community Garden Park’s “giant elf,” a much-loved shrub that changes appearance with the seasons, while all the year gazing upon visitors with large blue eyes. (The Joliets have been on Garden Park's governing committee for 10 years.)

The Joliets are thrilled that retail outlets including Laguna Beach Books, Laguna Nursery, Coast Hardware, Little Freebirds, Laguna Art Supply, Art for the Soul, Hobie Surf Shop, and San Clemente’s Beach Town Books are carrying the book.

But what thrills them the most are the positive comments they’re getting from kids.

“One grandmother reported that her 3-year-old granddaughter insisted on taking the book to bed with her! That’s what we like to hear,” say the talented Joliets.

Laguna Wilderness Press is a nonprofit dedicated to publishing books about the presence, preservation, and importance of wilderness environment. It was a perfect fit for the Joliets’ vision.


Shaena Stabler is the Owner, Publisher & Editor.

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor & Writer.

Michael Sterling is our Webmaster & Designer.

Mary Hurlbut and Scott Brashier are our photographers.

Alexis Amaradio, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Maggi Henrikson, Sara Hall, Stacia Stabler and Suzie Harrison are our writers and/or columnists.

In Memoriam - Stu Saffer and Barbara Diamond.

We all love Laguna and we love what we do.

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