ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Shelly Augsbury has googly eyes all over her house.
"You can never have enough googly eyes," laughs the St. Petersburg author and artist.
This creative force of nature is the playful mind behind Okalani the Octopus, a sweet sea critter who teaches valuable lessons about growing up, growing kind and growing smart.
"It's such a positive thing, a feel-good thing," says Augsbury. "And we need some good these days."
Shelly started the Okalani series during the pandemic. One slow day, the prolific artist decided to paint the fence outside her St. Petersburg home.
"I like big canvases," she said. "And I like the beach, the water."
So she drew ocean life, including, you guessed it, an octopus.
She quickly became a hot spot in the neighborhood.
"Grandparents started bringing their grandkids, people were taking pictures," she says. "And one thing led to another."
That's for sure. The fence led to five books in fact, all written and illustrated during the pandemic. The Okalani series is available in retail shops and museums, including the Dali Museum.
Shelly would now like to raise money through donations so she can provide hundreds of Okalani books to kids in need.