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One kid’s trash provides a lesson to treasure in new feature

It’s been a long journey, but Joel Harper’s brainchild has finally made it all the way to the screen.

His children’s book All the Way to the Ocean—which teaches kids and families about how careless littering can wreak havoc on sea life—has been turned into an animated feature, set to be debut tomorrow, Friday, April 22.

The release, planned to coincide with Earth Day, will be celebrated with a launch party held this evening from 4 to 6 p.m. at Walter’s Restaurant in Claremont. For more information, visit the All the Way to the Ocean page on Facebook.

Mr. Harper’s message of environmental consciousness will extend far beyond the City of Trees. The movie’s April 22 premiere includes a worldwide release on Vimeo.com. You can rent the 14-minute film for 24 hours for $1.99 or buy a digital copy of the movie for $4.99.

Music fans will be happy to hear that Mr. Harper has enlisted the talent of older brother Ben Harper for the project. Ben’s song “With My Own Two Hands,” recorded with Jack Johnson, serves as a centerpiece for the film. Another track, “The Time is Now,” features the musical talents of Joel Harper and reggae group Burning Spear.

Actresses Marcia Cross and Amy Smart provide the voices of the narrator and mom in the story, respectively, while Australian musician Xavier Rudd portrays the crane.

The story is a simple one, which aims to show how simple acts of mindfulness can make a world of difference. When a kid named James tosses a bottle into a storm drain, his friend Isaac is there to warn him about how, after it rains, our junk can make it “All the Way to the Ocean.” 

The book was produced by Mr. Harper under the auspices of his Freedom Three Publishing Company and released in 2006. It has already made its way all the way to the ocean—it has long been stocked in the gift shop at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, among other venues.

Goals have a way of breeding new goals, and it wasn’t long before Mr. Harper started dreaming of an animated version of his book. Work on the project began in earnest in 2012. It was funded and produced by Mediatavern and Faro Media Group in conjunction with Freedom Three Publishing.

“I’m excited to have another vehicle to educate and inspire another generation of ocean stewards,” Mr. Harper said. “It’s a huge sense of accomplishment. A lot of blood, sweat and tears went into this.”

Mr. Harper is also the author, in collaboration with artist Erin O’Shea, of a book called Sea Change. The wordless picture book encourages kids to pick up beach trash—preventing it from harming animals—and turn it into artwork. This coming fall, he will release another book through Freedom Three Publishing  called Frankie Finds the Blues.

Mr. Harper feels passionate about getting young people engaged in the world, whether they are cleaning up or celebrating a unique American art form. He believes children are capable of far more than we sometimes give them credit for.  “Kids need to see their impact, that they are making a difference,” he said. 

For more information on All the Way to the Ocean, visit  AllTheWayToTheOcean.com. For more information on Joel Harper and his Freedom Three Publishing imprint, visit JoelHarper.com.

—Sarah Torribio

storribio@claremont-courier.com