5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Interview: Debbie Ohi

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If you are anything like me chances are a big part of your reading life as a child involved Judy Blume. I can remember, clear as day, my third grade teacher Ms. Frey reading my class Tales Of A Fourth Grade Nothing. I am so excited that these classics are going to be reissued with new updated illustrations  and new covers from Debbie Ohi. Debbie has kindly agreed to answer my interview questions today.

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Here are the rules:

1. I give the interviewee 5 questions

2. They have to answer

  • 1 question with 5 sentences
  • 1 question with 4 sentences
  • 1 question with 3 sentences
  • 1 question with 2 sentences
  • 1 question with 1 sentence

3.  They get to pick which question which question to answer with each number of sentences

4. Have fun!

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Interview

1. Can you tell us a little bit about the work you did for Judy Blume’s reissued books?

​(5 sentences)

I provided illustrations for seven covers of Judy Blume classics being reissued as middle grade editions by Atheneum Books For Young Readers/Simon & Schuster: ARE YOU THERE GOD? IT’S ME, MARGARET,  BLUBBER, DEENIE, IGGIE’S HOUSE, IT’S NOT THE END OF THE WORLD, STARRING SALLY J. FREEDMAN AS HERSELF, THEN AGAIN, MAYBE I WON’T.

Lauren Rille (Associate Art Director at Simon & Schuster Children’s) was responsible for the great cover design, and I loved working with her.

I also illustrated the covers of three Judy Blume classics being reissued as chapter books by Atheneum/Simon & Schuster: FRECKLE JUICE, THE PAIN AND THE GREAT ONE, and THE ONE IN THE MIDDLE IS THE GREEN KANGAROO.

In addition to providing illustrations for the covers for these chapter books, I created nearly 90 illustrations for the interior pages.

The redesigned middle grade books with my cover illustrations came out in April, and the revamped chapter books will be available in bookstores on May 27th (paperback) and June 3rd (hardcover), 2014.

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2​. What was the hardest thing about recovering Ms. Blume’s books?

​(4 sentences)​

It was stressful during the audition process because I wanted the job SO VERY VERY MUCH but had no idea if I’d be chosen.

Because I’m a longtime fangirl and have such huge respect for her work that I felt a ton of pressure while working on the new illustrations.

The deadline was very tight, so I ended up working every weekend and most evenings, with 14+ hour work days being the norm.

BUT….all the above was SO WORTH IT (see below).

3. What is your favorite thing about recovering Ms. Blume’s books?  

​(3 sentences)​
Afterward, I was immensely relieved and very excited to hear that Ms. Blume loved my art. She even posted to me on Twitter a few times! Each time it happened, I’d immediately text my husband, or yell upstairs if he was home: “JUDY BLUME TWEETED ME!!!!”

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4. If you could spend one day inside the world of any book which book would you pick?

​(2 sentences)

​The first Harry Potter book. Who wouldn’t want to be able to fly a broomstick and cast spells?

5. What advice do you have for the young illustrators in my classroom?

​(1 sentence)

Draw every day, don’t obsess about being perfect, and have fun experimenting with different media as well as subjects.

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A huge thanks to Debbie for stopping by today! I cannot wait to get my hands on these books.

Be sure to visit Nerdy Book Club to read Debbie’s essay on her work on the Blume books.

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Mr. Schu has put together some Blume resources for your reading and viewing pleasure.

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2 Comments
  1. Oh, Debbie, how wonderful to have done all this work and be able to have a “perk me up” thought like this for the rest of your life :D I remember when you first announced you were doing this and now here they are—out there for the world! :D Congrats, Debbie :D :D :D and thanks, Colby! :D Off to Nerdy…

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