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Each month we offer a focus on a particular author or artist. Sometimes we use this space to discuss a rising new talent or an established star, but we also like to celebrate those who now live on only in the rich legacy of their books.. See the archive for focus pieces from previous months.

Mirthful Moments with Kevin O'Malley


March is International Mirth Month, the month that is, according to Chase, "set aside to encourage more mirthful moments." Here at BCCB we cannot think of anyone who inspires more mirthful moments than author and illustrator Kevin O'Malley. O'Malley first caught our collective eye in 1997, with the publication of Rosie's Fiddle, by Phyllis Root (BCCB 5/97). The illustrations for this very tellable title feature an ornery old woman with more vinegar than the pages can hold, and a visual personification of the devil himself that is downright eerie. Illustrator of more than twenty-five picture books, O'Malley infuses his mixed-media images with an inherent liveliness and raucous personality that demand attention. (If pictures could talk, O'Malley's would shout with laughter.) The addition of O'Malley's artistic joie de vivre enhances the humor of any text. His skill in making even the spookiest moments sublimely funny serves him well in such titles as Halloween Pie (BCCB 9/99); his gleeful enjoyment of slapstick situations is evident in Colliding with Chris (BCCB 6/98); and his gift for the absurd is the driving force behind Leo Cockroach, Toy Tester (BCCB 6/99). O'Malley combines expert drafting with a gift for comic visual interpretation that cannot be underestimated. I myself have been mad for O'Malley since the publication of Velcome in 1997: "What this book [has] is a sense of humor, kid's humor, something that is often not taken seriously (enough) in mainstream books for youth. . . . the kids are going to love [Velcome] because it gives recognizable, hilarious shape and form to the silliness they already use to keep the really scary stuff at bay. . . . The whole package--the text, illustrations, and design--conjures up an image of the author/illustrator crouched over his drawing table chuckling with maniacal glee. Sort of the way the Bulletin reviewers crouched over this book, emitting little snorts of guilty laughter" (for full-text of the Big Picture review of Velcome see the online Big Picture or the November 1997 print Bulletin. O'Malley has an understanding of the juvenile sense of humor that is quite valuable; even more valuable is the respect he has for his audience's sensibilities. O'Malley's books strike a chord of recognition in hearts made lighter by appreciation of his work. Take a look, and have a laugh.

--Janice M. Del Negro, Editor

The following is a selection of titles illustrated by Kevin O'Malley (author where noted).


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This page was last updated on March 1, 2000.


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