Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Loved-to-Pieces . . . with ZACHARIAH OHORA!

Good morning! Mr. Pig here. I'm so very excited to welcome author-illustrator Zachariah OHora to the Cottage! The kidlitosphere is buzzing about WOLFIE THE BUNNY, his new book with Cottager friend and favorite Ame Dyckman. We can't wait to get our hands on a copy when it releases on February 17th!

In addition to illustrating Wolfie, Mr. OHora is the genius behind the picture books No Fits, Nilson, My Cousin Momo, and Stop Snoring, Bernard! 

Influential children's librarian and School Library Journal blogger Betsy Bird said this of OHora: "Clearly the man knows where to find the picture book sweet spot. A visual feast as well as a treat to the ear, this is a book that’s going to find an audience no matter where it goes." 

So what did this rising star in children's books love to read as a child? We asked the question—and Zachariah told us one of the sweetest Loved-to-Pieces stories EVER!
Read on!

"When I was a kid, my Grandmother lived in the woods of Connecticut and she had a giant wicker basket full of toys and books. The book I reached for every time was Clyde and Wendy Watson's Father Fox's Pennyrhymes.

The rhymes were silly and I loved staring at all the little foxes, seeing what they were wearing and what each on of them was doing. And how about those trees?! All those leaves?! It was a book of poems but also kind of a comic book from another century.

My cousin and I loved how mischievous the foxes could be. Like this Aunt's house they just come in and trash. That definitely appealed to my six year old boy self. Especially in a house that as much as were allowed to do what we wanted, there were a line that couldn't be crossed (like playing with Grandpa's pipes)!

But my absolute favorite spread, both the poem and the artwork, was this one. My cousin and I would make my Grandmom read it over and over and we would roll on the floor with laughter at the thought of someone eating the buttons of their shirt!

I never had an actual copy of the book myself. So it was a special treat to see it at my Grandmother's. I don't know if it was the setting (her house was very country style) but combined with the old fashioned dress of the foxes and their little world, I assumed this book was some kind of relic from the 1800s instead of a National Book Award Nominee for 1972!

Years later, I would recite this poem to my two young boys Oskar and Teddy and they would giggle with laughter just as my cousin and I did thirty-odd years ago.

I came across a copy at a bookstore in New York and it reminded me that I should Google Wendy & Clyde Watson.

Imagine my surprise when I found out that Wendy was still alive and well. Apparently the book came out in the 1970s and not the 1870s as I had presumed. I was further surprised to find out that Clyde Watson was her sister! Not her husband as I had presumed as well.

The biggest shock was realizing that we followed each other on Twitter! THAT Wendy Watson?! It couldn't be! I emailed her that evening, fanboyed out on her, told her all about how I recited the button poems to Oskar and Teddy. 

That Christmas, a package came in the mail with a copy of Father Fox's Pennyrhymes signed by Clyde and Wendy."

Zachariah OHora is an illustrator and author of a number of children's books. His debut Stop Snoring, Bernard! was awarded the Society of Illustrators Founder's Award, and his book No Fits Nilson! was the Huffington Post Best Picture Book of the Year for 2013. He lives and works in Narberth, PA. To learn more about his books and art, visit him at his website Fuzzytown

Wolfie The Bunny
by Ame Dyckman
illustrated by Zachariah OHora
Little, Brown (February 17, 2015)

Families of all kinds will delight in this sweet tale of new babies, sibling rivalry, bravery, unconditional love...and veggies!

The Bunny family has adopted a wolf son, and daughter Dot is the only one who realizes Wolfie can--and might--eat them all up! Dot tries to get through to her parents, but they are too smitten to listen. A new brother takes getting used to, and when (in a twist of fate) it's Wolfie who's threatened, can Dot save the day?

"OHora's distinctive folk-naïf spreads poke gentle fun at hipster families. . . " —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"A tongue in cheek tale of a wolf in bunny clothing. It's pretty adorable." —Kirkus 

No Fits, Nilson
by Zachariah OHora
Dial (June 2013)

★ A Kirkus Reviews Best Picture Book of 2013, a New York Public Library Book for Reading and Sharing, and The Huffington Post's Best Overall Picture Book of 2013!

"OHora’s rough, woodcutlike acrylic paintings are a delight, and there are quirky details to be savored everywhere… Nilson’s (and Amelia’s) struggle to behave will leave a lasting impression." —Publishers Weekly

"OHora’s acrylic illustrations evince a crispness of finish, smoothness of color, and strength of black line that suggests particularly lively woodcuts, and a streamlined retro palette...enhances the graphic strength." —Bulletin of Center for Children's Books

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