The Palmerton Area Library will be hosting author/illustrator Zachariah OHora at 1 p.m. Wednesday, April 25. Everyone is invited to hear him read his first book, Stop Snoring, Bernard! at this free public event.
Published in 2011 by Henry Holt and Company, LLC, "Stop Snoring, Bernard!" follows the lovable sea otter Bernard as he tries to find a place in the zoo where his loud snoring won't disturb the other animals. Stop Snoring, Bernard! is OHora's first book for children and is the recipient of the 2011 Society of Illustrators' Founders Award.
"I was blown away to receive the Society of Illustrators' 2011 Founder's Award. I was so nervous to give the acceptance speech, particularly because Lane Smith, who is a big influence on me, was in the crowd and was giving a speech right after mine. I'm one of the judges on this year's panel, and I'm looking forward to being able to pass the award on," OHora said.
This special visit to Palmerton Area Library is sponsored by the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Libraries of Harrisburg as part of the Pennsylvania One Book, Every Young Child program.
Stop Snoring, Bernard! has been named the 2012 selection of the seventh annual Pennsylvania One Book, Every Young Child early literacy initiative.
"It's a huge honor to be part of the Pennsylvania One Book program," said OHora. "In this digital isolation age, it's all the more important for children to have communal reading and story experiences. It is the basis of community."
OHora, along with members of the Pennsylvania Library Association, legislators and other community leaders, came together at the Pennsylvania State Capitol to promote the development of early literacy skills through interactive experiences with books and stories. The Capitol launch event was part of OHora's 20 days of visits across the state, which began March 24 in Montgomery County.
It was something he never imagined he'd be doing as a kid growing up in Manchester, New Hampshire.
"When I was a kid, the best days were when the bookmobile came to my school. With the Pennsylvania One Book program, I feel like a human bookmobile," said OHora. "It's a warm and fuzzy feeling."
OHora lives and works out of his home in Narberth, Montgomery County, which he says "is a wonderful little village that I did not know actually existed. It's like something out of an Andy Griffith Show."
He was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota and raised in Manchester, New Hampshire. After hitchhiking around the country, he lived in San Francisco for 10 years, where he graduated from the California College of Art. He moved to Brooklyn after graduation and lived there for five years before moving to Narberth three years ago.
He is now a full-time illustrator and children's book author and freelances for magazines, newspapers and album covers. He's also a full-time dad to his two sons, Oskar, 4, and Theodore (Teddy), 2.
Stop Snoring, Bernard! is his first published book.
"I have written other books, some roundly rejected and others in the works as upcoming books. One of them is coming out next spring, and it's called No Fits Nilsson! It's about a girl and her gorilla best friend who has a nasty habit of throwing huge fits when he doesn't get his way," OHora says. (His son Oskar was the model for Nilsson.)
His inspiration for writing Stop Snoring, Bernard! came from a combination of creating an otter character on a card to cheer up his wife, Lydia Ricci ("an amazing artist and graphic designer," he says) and Lydia's writing a helpful list of annoying character traits that might make good stories, all based on things he does.
"Write what you know, right?" he says.
He just finished illustrating a book called The Pet Project written by Lisa Wheeler, which will also be out next year. There is another Bernard book in the works and a couple other projects that he can't talk about just yet.
OHora loves listening to records and record shopping.
"The perfect Saturday would be making waffles with my boys, watching old cartoons while we ate them and then an afternoon hunting for records in dusty old shops. Evening would be a delicious meal made by my wife while we sip wine and listen to some of the days finds."
"I hope to make many more books that lots of children and their parents will love. I would love to create a work that would have a Shel Silverstein type of notoriety. You know, something that might get banned in Texas, but the rest of the country would embrace. Just kidding about that last part," he says. "I hope the entire Union embraces me."