Zachariah OHora to our school recently to share his first book, Stop Snoring, Bernard!, with the kindergarten classes.
I discovered this enchanting book during one of my visits to Barnes and Noble and was immediately smitten. As I read I couldn't help but compare the style and tone of this book with the work of Margret and H. A. Rey, creators of Curious George.
Two years ago I attended an exhibit of the Rey's work at The Jewish Museum and it contained the handmade, original Christmas cards they sent out every year. I found myself wishing I knew them and could stop by their New York apartment for tea or something. Obviously, that ship has sailed (H. A. died in 1977 and Margret followed in 1996 - the same year I started teaching) but perhaps I could meet this incredible author/illustrator Zachariah OHora whose work charmed me in the same way.
I sent him an email telling him how taken I was with Bernard and invited him to come visit my kindergarten children if he was ever in NYC. To my great joy, he responded! He wrote that he would love to visit and outlined an entertaining program for a 30-minute presentation.
I don't think I will ever get over my admiration for talented children's book authors and illustrators. Each one who visits our school has been patient, fun, entertaining, educational, motivating and full of joy. Zachariah was no exception.
In addition to reading Stop Snoring, Bernard!, he took requests from the boys and girls and drew large pictures of various animals on chart paper. We watched as he created Bernard (an otter who loves "mealtime, playtime and best of all...naptime!"), an elephant, a bat and an alligator.
He graciously signed all of the pictures and we will frame them for our library and classroom. It's the Christmas card I never got from the Rey's. Amazingly cool!
Throughout the session Zachariah good-naturedly answered questions from the students about his art, his books, his childhood and his ideas. It turns out Stop Snoring, Bernard! was inspired by this video of two otters holding hands.
He ended by teaching the children the Otter Dance! Their happy smiles and silly movements stood as a testament to the success of his visit.
No Fits, Nilson! and Pet Project. They both have the retro charm evident in Stop Snoring, Bernard!
I encourage you to check out his books. I guarantee you'll become a fan, like me.
*Update: Zachariah has posted about his visit to P.S. 347 on his blog. Click here to check it out.