Author/illustrator Ruth Ohi to show and tell at Festival of Words

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Lisa Goudy
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Author/illustrator Ruth Ohi will appear at the 2014 Saskatchewan Festival of Words taking place from July 17 to 20.

Ruth Ohi loves to see her characters brought to life on the page.

“When I’m coming up with an idea, I see the storyboard, the pages, what I would like to see in the picture book in my head and I can see the character alive in my head. So it is satisfying to illustrate my own stories,” she said.

“All my author illustrated books, they’re emotional reactions to something that I’ve experienced or seen or read in a newspaper. I write and draw from that and ask myself, ‘What if?’ and that’s usually my starting point for a story.”

Ohi, who has illustrated more than 40 books, 16 of which she is the author, will be doing story time sessions at the Saskatchewan Festival of Words.

“I’m very, very excited about that,” she said. “I’ve never actually been, but I was in Saskatchewan earlier this year and I heard so many great things about it and also just from being in Toronto too.”

She added she’s also looking forward to attending other writers’ sessions.

“When you get a lot of creative people together in one place, there’s usually an incredible energy,” said Ohi. “Put that with people who make the books come to life, the readers, and it’s just amazing.”

Her work has been shortlisted for many awards. Some of her most well known books include the Chicken, Pig, Cow series as well as Me and My Sister (2005), Kenta and the Big Wave (2013) and Shh! My Brother’s Napping (2014).

During her story time session, she’ll be reading from Shh! My Brother’s Napping. While her daughters inspired that book, the characters are changed to little boy mice.

“It’s basically about a big brother who loves his little brother so much and he actually misses him when the little brother has naps,” said Ohi.

“Things are so much more fun when your sibling’s awake. The big brother does his best to be good and listen to mommy mouse who reminds him, “Shh! Your brother’s napping,” but it’s really hard to be quiet when there’s so many fun things to do.”

The story time session for little ones will be on July 17 at 10 a.m. in the Moose Jaw Art Museum Theatre.

“It’s going to be a little bit of reading and an interactive drawing demo just to show the kids how I draw my characters, how a story can just come out of a scribble,” she said. “They’re actually going to get a hands-on segment where they’re going to create their own masterpieces. So I’m pretty excited about that.”

Choosing a favourite part of the entire writing and illustrating process is impossible for Ohi.

“I like it all. I don’t think I could pick just one part,” she said. “Being able to edit the story in balance with creating the images, knowing what needs to be actually said in the text and what actually needs to be shown in the pictures, I really enjoy that process.

“But it really is just the entire thing — the writing, the illustrating. There’s nothing that I would complain about. It’s great. I feel very, very lucky that I can be doing this for a living.”

The Saskatchewan Festival of Words runs from July 17 to 20. Passes are $200 and flex passes, which are applicable to individual sessions, are $100.

Follow Lisa Goudy on Twitter @lisagoudy.

 

Organizations: Moose Jaw Art Museum Theatre

Geographic location: Saskatchewan, Toronto

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