Getting Squirrely With Debbie Ridpath Ohi.

It’s my delight and honor to have recently gotten a copy of Author/Illustrator DEBBIE RIDPATH OHI’s newest picture book: SAM & EVA (Simon and Schuster 2017).  It’s pitched as HAROLD THE PURPLE CRAYON meets TOM & JERRY.  “A sweet and funny picture book about a boy and girl who must balance their creativity and learn how to cooperate after their drawings come to life.”   

Instead of the usual interview with an author, Debbie has agreed to do something completely unique:  She will teach us how to DRAW A SQUIRREL.  So grab your pencil and paper and LET’S GET SQUIRRELY!

by Debbie Ridpath Ohi
I put squirrels in a lot of my picture books, so I thought some young readers might enjoy learning how to draw one. Here’s how to draw the squirrel from WHERE ARE MY BOOKS? and SAM & EVA.      
Please note that these are just rough guidelines! When young readers are drawing for fun, there is no such thing as making a mistake. Feel free to change the shape of the head or the body, use different colors, change the details. 
Another idea: make the squirrel an ALIEN SQUIRREL! Purposely experiment with crazy additions:
You find more free, print-ready activities as well as free posters and classroom activity guides at

Debbie Ridpath Ohi –  Twitter: @inkyelbows –

Launching in 2017: SAM & EVA by Debbie Ridpath Ohi (Simon & Schuster,    Oct.17), SEA MONKEY & BOB by Aaron Reynolds & Debbie (Simon & Schuster, Apr.25), MITZI TULANE, PRESCHOOL DETECTIVE in THE SECRET INGREDIENT by Lauren McLaughlin & Debbie (Random House, July 11), RUBY ROSE, BIG BRAVOS by Rob Sanders & Debbie (HarperCollins, Aug.9).   

Darlene here:  This was such fun, I had to try my own squirrel: 

SAM & EVA  is a delight.  Here’s my 5 star review:

“A clever story of creative conflict and co-operation that will be sure to delight budding artists who can watch the drawings take on personalities Sam and Eva never imagined.  Like the creative “muse” in all of us…you never know where your pen  – or brush – will take you.”

Got Stuff? Make Art With Debbie Ridpath Ohi.

I had the absolute joy of meeting author/illustrator DEBBIE RIDPATH OHI at the American Library Association summer conference in San Francisco last June.  Friendly, engaging, and sooo talented.  She also generously took time from her very busy career to be a guest on this blog.  If you’ve never had the joy of seeing Debbie’s work, here is an opportunity. 

Debbie is known for making art from found objects such as candy wrappers, sticks, buttons, strawberries…You name it, and she will make art from it.

For this tutorial, gather the kids around, break out a handful of almonds, clean paper and some pencils.   Here’s Debbie:

Creative Fun With Found Object Art

by Debbie Ridpath Ohi

 A fun art activity for young readers: doodle with found objects!

This may look like a pile of almonds:


But you never know what may happen once you add a few lines.

All you need is a blank piece of paper, an object, and something to draw with. If you’re working with a messy found object, make sure you put plastic underneath to protect the table.








You don’t need fancy drawing tools.    10-WritingInstruments-600




Here are some examples of found object art that I’ve made:

For more tips, see my Look Again resource (

Debbie Ridpath Ohi – Twitter: @inkyelbows –      
Author/illustrator of WHERE ARE MY BOOKS? (Simon & Schuster), My illustrations also appear in books by Michael Ian Black & Judy Blume as well as the upcoming Ruby Rose books by Rob Sanders (HarperCollins), Mitzi Tulane books by Lauren McLaughlin (Random House). I blog about reading, writing and illustrating children’s books at Inkygirl.

(Darlene here:  I got so inspired by Debbie’s enthusiasm and gift of doodling, I tried some “almond doodles” myself.)

Who knew almonds were so much fun!                                                            2014-12-02 01.56.41

With Author Debbie Ridpath Ohi

With Author/illustrator Debbie Ridpath Ohi

The Gift Of Shiloh.

I’ve recently been the lucky recipient of a free signed copy of PHYLLIS REYNOLDS NAYLOR’S  latest book: SHILOH CHRISTMAS (Athenium 2105)  Talk about an awesome gift!  Opening it was like getting a visit from an old friend.  I’ve loved the Shiloh stores and can’t wait to read this latest addition.     tulsa print 2010 056 Phyllis Naylor

2014-11-21 00.31.37

To read more about the book series, and see a great article about Phylllis, check out the link below.

If you’re looking for a perfect gift for a middle grade reader in your life, give the gift of Shiloh.

Poetry Challenge: by Lori Degman

To celebrate National Poetry Month, I asked a fellow writer and poet, Lori Degman to share some different kinds of poetry forms.  Lori’s picture books, 1 Zany Zoo, (Simon &     1 Zany Zoo CoverSchuster 2010)     and Cockadoodle,Oops! (Creston Books 2014)          cokadoodle oops

were written in rhyming verse, and are an absolute delight to read aloud.  Here’s Lori:

Thank you, Darlene, for asking me to do a guest post on your wonderful blog!

As a writer of rhyme – most of the time (but not always), and because April is National Poetry Month, I thought I’d share four unusual forms of poetry I’ve discovered through the years. I challenge you to give them a try – I bet you’ll have fun if you do!

1. Cinquain – a five-line poem that follows this pattern:
Line 1: One word (subject or noun)
Line 2: Two words (adjectives that describe line 1)
Line 3: Three words (action verbs that relate to line 1)
Line 4: Four words (feelings or a complete sentence that relates to line 1)
Line 5: One word (synonym of line 1 or a word that sums it up)

Here’s my Cinquain:

Fresh, green
Raining, blossoming, growing
Goodbye to old winter

2. Clerihew – a light verse, usually consisting on two couplets of uneven length and irregular
meter, with the rhyme scheme AABB. The first line usually contains the name of a well known
person. The Clerihew was invented by Edmund Clerihew Bently (1875 – 1956), an English
writer, at the age of 16.

Here’s my Clerihew:

Dr. Seuss
Is out on the loose.
He’s hunting for words
that are silly and absurd.

3. Sausage Poem – a string of words which are “linked” with the same letters/sounds at the
endings and beginnings of words. An extra challenge is to go full circle and have the last
letter/sound of the sentence match the first letter/sound. It’s harder than I thought it would be!

Here’s my Sausage Poem: (Darlene highlighted the letter sounds in orange to show the technique)

Spring goes slowly yet time elapses.
Summer rain nurturing growing greens.
Fall leaves swirl like caustic kids.
Winter rains snow over rustic cabins.

4. Skeltonic Verse – The Skeltonic Verse was named after English poet, John Skelton
(1460-1529). The rules are simple:

Line 1: Keep the line lengths between three and six words
Line 2: Every end word rhymes with the previous, until you start a new set of rhymes
Line 3: Keep the same rhyme until it starts to lose its energy or impact
Line 4: The poem should be full of energy and fun

Here’s my Skeltonic Verse (I wrote this right before going out to do my “duty”):

The weekend’s here
I shout and cheer
Until I hear
A voice so clear
From in the yard
the words were hard
So I was jarred
My plans were marred
Outside on the stoop
With a bag and scoop
His words made me droop
“Let’s pick up poop”                                     mompic_small

Bio –
Lori Degman is a teacher of Deaf/Hard of Hearing students by day and a writer of picture books by night, weekends and school holidays. Her debut picture book, 1 Zany Zoo was the winner of the Cheerios New Author Contest and was published by Simon & Schuster in 2010. Her second picture book, Cock-a-Doodle Oops! was released by Creston Books in May, 2014! She is represented by Karen Grencik at Red Fox Literary.

Darlene here:  I don’t know about you, but I am going to have to try a Skeltonic poem of my own.  Which form speaks to you?