Wednesday, December 18, 2019

December #cbadspotlight - Spotlight on Saturday with Author/Illustrator Oge Mora

Today I'm shining the spotlight on 
Oge Mora,
author & illustrator of #cbadspotlight pick 
and also her debut picture book, THANK YOU OMU, a Caldecott Honor book.
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In this warm and tender story by the Caldecott Honor-winning creator of Thank You, Omu!, join a mother and daughter on an up-and-down journey that reminds them of what’s best about Saturdays: precious time together.

Today would be special. Today would be splendid. It was Saturday! But sometimes, the best plans don’t work out exactly the way you expect….

In this heartfelt and universal story, a mother and daughter look forward to their special Saturday routine together every single week. But this Saturday, one thing after another goes wrong–ruining storytime, salon time, picnic time, and the puppet show they’d been looking forward to going to all week. Mom is nearing a meltdown…until her loving daughter reminds her that being together is the most important thing of all.

Author-artist Oge Mora’s highly anticipated follow up to Caldecott Honor Thank You, Omu! features the same magnificently radiant artwork and celebration of sharing so beloved in her debut picture book.

Thank you, Oge, for joining me for a #cbadspotlight interview today!

1. What was your inspiration for writing this book? / What was your inspiration for the illustrations in this book?   
This book at its heart is a book about love. It’s a celebration of the loving bond between a child and a parent, the reciprocity of that love, and the preciousness of the time we spend with those we care deeply for. It was very important that while the palette and overall composition of the book had a playfulness to it, the entire book felt rich and warm.

2. What message do you hope kids (of all ages) take away from this book?

This isn't a message driven book, but I hope this story is true to the fact that life has its disappointments and setbacks, that no matter how strong or old you are, we all have vulnerable moments, and how one of the most beautiful things about life is how love can light and lead us through life’s darker moments. 

3. What was your writing & revision process like for this story? / What was your process for creating & revising the illustrations for this story?

Any picture book author will tell you, writing a story for a picture book is very hard! With my editor as my witness, this book went through many drafts and I wrote many other manuscripts before coming to this story. My process, whether for the words or images always comes down to rhythm. As a writer, I am in love with the sounds of words. Therefore it is important to me to revise my writing out loud, reading my drafts over and over, until I establish a good rhythm. Illustration wise, especially in regards to this book, I wanted the musicality of the words to be displayed in the images as well. It was really important to me that Ava and her mother looked like they were dancing from page to page. 

4. Was there any part of the process where you worked together on the vision for this book?

The whole book process is a collaboration. My editor worked with me on revising and sharpening the overall pacing and vision of the book. My art director was the one who posed the idea of calendar endpapers. Even my sister suffered through my many desperate late night requests to read over my drafts! I think one of the strangest things about making a book is that while only your name makes the cover, no one makes a book by themselves. I am grateful to the entire team at LBYR, my agent, my family, my mentors, and my friends for making this book possible.

5. What is your favorite part of making picture books? 

Sharing them with people! I once had a wonderful woman come up to me with happy tears and tell me point blank that “I told her story”. All my books are personally special to me, but to have them become special to other people is a truly beautiful and humbling thing. What a gift. 

6. #cbadspotlight is putting the spotlight on inclusive #ownvoices books. What can you share with students about the connection you have to this book or the choices you made while writing/illustrating it to add diverse representation?

One of the things I love the most about my artistic practice is that the collages I make are in many ways accessible. Every kid has made a collage before. Everyone has crayons, paint, or newspaper scraps around. And just like every kid can make a collage every child can write, can draw, and has a story. I think I would want them to take away that their stories matter. I want them to think about their families, their friends, their languages, their culture, their everyday experiences and think I everything I am is worthy to be written or drawn on a page. 

7. #classroombookaday is a goal to read aloud a picture book every day of the school year to students at any grade. What would you like to say to the teachers who are taking on this challenge?

I really commend that challenge. Being read aloud to was my favorite experience as a child. It made me fall in love with words, and revealed to me that books have magic, have power. I think picture books have so much to offer us and I am grateful for all the teachers sharing that message with children. 

Be sure to check out all of the #cbadspotlight choices for this school year!
Visit for more information on #classroombookaday,
a goal to read aloud a picture book every day of the school year, at any grade,
inspired by Donalyn Miller's #bookaday.

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