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Genuine article

Author and illustrator Debbie Ridpath Ohi’s books are a perfect reflection of her big-hearted personality


Debbie Ridpath Ohi gleefully flips through a scrapbook of author signatures and letters she received in response to fan mail she sent as a teenager: Stephen King. Isaac Asimov. Margaret Atwood. Erma Bombeck. The ultimate fangirl, she grows more excited with each passing page. One of her favourites is a handwritten note from Ray Bradbury, a formative influence on her as a writer. “Dandelion Wine is the first book that made me so conscious of writing voice, how voice could enhance a reader experience,” she says.

Reader experience is key to every project Ohi takes on, whether it’s the picture books she writes herself and illustrates or those she illustrates for other authors. “Sometimes it’s too easy to be drawn into the technique and I have to force myself to pull back and take a look at what is happening from a young reader’s point of view,” she says. “What is going to make the reader want to turn the page? Is everything clear? Are they connecting with the characters and the story throughout? Are the story and character making the reader see the world in a way they’re not used to?”

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About Quill & Quire

Debbie Ridpath Ohi: A big heart comes live on the page; Books for young people Fall preview; 100 of the top kids' books arriving on shelves this season.