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  I grew up in a busy household as the middle child of three with an artistic mother and a father who was a natural storyteller. Sometimes at bedtime my Dad would solemnly light a pretend fire on the floor of our dark bedroom and tell us a riveting adventure tale as he fanned the flames of the “campfire.” His deep sense of wonder and unique imagination was a major influence on me. My mother encouraged me in my art and I learned by watching her as she created many Early American folk art pieces.

 In high school I took many art classes and created posters for school events and illustrations for the yearbooks. I spent the summers working with children, first as a counselor and then as the arts and crafts teacher at a YMCA day camp. I attended Philadelphia College of Art where I majored in Illustration, and was inspired by a slide lecture given by Maurice Sendak where he described the conceptual framework behind his classic, Where The Wild Things Are. I began to look at picture books more and more. After college I jumped at the opportunity to illustrate the picture book, I Know I’m Myself, Because, by local author Polly Greenburg. Now, the teacher inside me is happy when I visit schools to talk with children about the wonderful process of creating picture books.

Jennifer OConnell child

It is so much fun to see a world you have created come alive within a book! Working with editors and art directors is exhilarating; the team effort creates a synergy where ideas build on each other as the book takes on a life of its own. When that happens, it’s magic!

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