My Introduction Page for “Olivia Ocelot Saves the Day: Adventures in the Desert”

This is the page that introduces me, Olivia Ocelot in my new book, “Olivia Ocelot Saves the Day: Adventures in the Desert”.  The background is a painting my creator/author/illustrator, Anne Crary Jantz did a few years ago. I told Anne it was purrfect for my introduction.

Here is the text that Anne put on this page in case you can’t read it on your computer screen.

“This is Olivia Ocelot. She is a wild cat about twice as big as a house cat. Her home is in the Rainforest in Costa Rica, but right now she is in the desert in Arizona. Her cousin Bob Bobcat invited her to come North to help him and his neighbors with a really big problem. His neighbors are some very interesting animals, and they all know that Olivia is very brave, very smart, and always very helpful to others. They know    that when they have a problem, even if Olivia doesn’t know the answer, she will go and find the answer. Olivia Ocelot is a very good friend.”

As Anne said earlier in this blog, this is a work in progress. Anne is sharing her process and progress with you, my lovely fans. It should be a lot of fun for me, for Anne, and for you.

What Can You Do?

You can keep coming back here to my blog and give me your opinions on my books as they materialize. It will be something like being in a dark room and seeing photos loom out in the development tray. I think it will be a lot of fun.

Anne Crary Jantz and I, Olivia Ocelot look forward to your comments and contributions. Come walk along with us on this adventure !!!

The End Pages Are Done for My New Adventure

Hello  there,
My name is Olivia Ocelot and I live in the Rainforest in Costa Rica. I like to help my friends with their problems, and my reputation for problem solving has spread really, really, really, really far away.  So,  my cousin, Bob Bobcat who lives  in the Sonoran Desert way up in Arizona just sent me a message by way of Sandra,  a  Sandhill Crane who stopped in Arizona an her way to Costa Rica,  and ran across Bob Bobcat. He asked Sandra Sandhill Crane to tell  me he needs my help.
Say no more, I’m on my way!

A Flock of Sandhill Cranes

Yup, I am going to go on up there and see if I can help Bob Bobcat and all his desert buddies. I decided in my infinite Cat Logic that the end pages of my new book will feature the saguaro cactus (Carnegiea gigantea), one of the defining plants of the Sonoran Desert. These plants are large, tree-like columnar cacti that develop branches (or arms) as they age, although some never grow arms. These arms generally bend upward and can number over 25.  Saguaros are covered with protective spines, white flowers in the late spring, and red fruit in summer. They are amazing!!!

Saguaros are found exclusively in the Sonoran Desert.  The saguaro is the largest cactus in the United States.  With the right growing conditions, it is estimated that saguaros can live to be as much as 150-200 years old. Saguaro are very slow growing cactus. A 10 year old plant might only be 1.5 inches tall! Saguaro can grow to be between 40-60 feet tall (12-18m). When rain is plentiful and the saguaro is fully hydrated it can weigh between 3200-4800 pounds. Now that is a big plant.  A lot of animals and birds live inside the saguaro, and Bob Bobcat spends a lot of time perched on top of them.

I think they are very beautiful, and they are the symbol of Bob Bobcat’s neighborhood, so I asked my illustrator, Anne Crary Jantz to use a saguaro cactus at the start of my new story. Come walk along with me on this new adventure!

My Cousin Bob Bobcat on his favorite Saguaro Cactus

  

Saguaro Flowers

The First Step For A Children’s Book Is The Cover

The first step in writing a children’s book for me is deciding on the cover illustration. I knew I wanted to write a book about the desert for book number 2, so I had a fair idea what the cover should look like.  I already had “Olivia Ocelot Comes to the Rescue: Adventures in the Rainforest” published, and I wanted to have continuity in her series, so I used the same pose as the cover for that book,  but put her into a painting of the desert that I had painted a few years ago. Bill and I lived in Phoenix, Arizona in the late 2000’s right after the auto industry crashed in Detroit. Bill is an automotive designer, but he got a job in aerospace in Phoenix. We toured around a lot and saw all the beautiful cacti and cactus flowers all over, and I knew they would be perfect for background. The desert can be pretty boring, at least for those of us who come from green places. However, at certain times of the year the desert bursts into bloom, and then it’s spectacular.  So this is the working cover for my second book. Let me know what you think.

I AM LAUNCHING OFF INTO AN INTERACTIVE CHILDREN’S BOOK WRITING ADVENTURE HERE ON OLIVIA OCELOT’S BLOG

INTRODUCTION: HOW I DISCOVERED THE WORLD OF CHILDREN’S BOOK WRITING AND ILLUSTRATING

The painting above is the one that helped me launch off into Children’s Book Illustrating. I’ve been an artist all my life, but it never occurred to me to write and illustrate kid’s books.  I’m from Plattsburgh, New York way up on the Canadian border an hour south of Montreal. Right after I married Bill Jantz, a Detroiter and moved to Detroit, I  finished a B.F.A. in Painting and Sculpture at Wayne State University in Detroit, and then we took off to see the World. Bill was an Automotive Draftsman, and he got a job in Australia. Over the following years, we lived in Australia twice, Germany three times, Sweden twice, England, Belgium, and The Netherlands (Holland) while Bill worked for car companies.

I studied art all along the way. We kept coming back to the States between contracts, and we managed to have our son, Matthew in Florida and our daughter Kathryn in Michigan. We kept on traveling with both kids in tow until Matthew got to Middle school age, and then we came back to Detroit. I painted, wove tapestries, painted on silk, and did sculpture through those years. I also wrote a spy novel using all our temporary homes as backgrounds.

Once we were back in Detroit, I went to community college for Drafting, and then got into CAD (Computer Assisted Drafting) for Architects. CAD all evolved into 3D design as the years rolled by, so that Sculpture degree came in really handy.

In October of 2014, out of the Blue, I got an invitation to come to a Meet-up for people who wanted to be Children’s Book Illustrators. As I said before, up until then I had never even thought about it, but it really did catch my attention. The organizer suggested that people bring one of their paintings that they thought might make a good cover. I looked around my studio and spied the painting at the beginning of this post.  I’d done several years before. It is a young Ocelot high in a tree in the Rainforest surrounded by trailing leaves and white orchids. I’ve always been attracted to ocelots, and I often paint orchids, so I decided that was the one. I took it to the Meet-up.

I had asked my friend Carole Kersten to go to the meeting with me. She’s a retired school librarian, and she speaks fluent Bookese. The meeting went very well. We met at the coffee shop of a local Barnes & Noble. Carole and I were the only ones that showed up besides the organizer, a darling young man named Soloman. Soloman liked my painting, and encouraged me to go for it. Nine months later I pushed a button on my computer and “Olivia Ocelot Comes to the Rescue: Adventures in the Rainforest” was born. Of course it wasn’t quite that Wham, Bam getting from A to B, but I thank Soloman and Carole for the seeds they planted that day. It was a truly doo-doo-doo-doo moment for me and for Olivia Ocelot, the feisty little wild cat from Costa Rica who became my main character. I’m not very religious as a rule, but I do believe in synchronicity. That day was a very synchronistic moment.

I created Olivia Ocelot for that first book. She is a brave and beautiful little wild cat who lives in the Rainforest in Costa Rica. Olivia Ocelot is all about community building in whatever local she leaps into. My goals are to Entertain, Educate and Empower the readers in her books.  In her first book, Olivia Ocelot is helping her neighbors in the Rainforest with a problem. In book 2 she is in the desert in Arizona helping to solve another problem with them, and in book 3 she will be in Michigan, U.S.A. at the invitation of her cousin, Lydia Lynx. The problem she is solving in Michigan is the war between the Black Squirrels and the Red Squirrels. My beautiful, awesome daughter, Katy Jantz Kott and her kids, Aemelia (14) and Wesley (11) help me all the time with my book writing. They give me a lot of advice on what Olivia Ocelot should and shouldn’t say to her friends.

A couple of days ago my brilliant daughter-in-law, Janna Moll Jantz, who,  is also brave and beautiful just like Olivia Ocelot, suggested that I go to the web with my book writing efforts! How great is that? It hit me like lightening! I love all the processes for creating the books, but I realized it would be so cool to do it with an audience on the Web. So, I will be launching interactive children’s book writing with the Arizona book. That will be happening right here: https://oliviaocelotchildren’s books.com .  Please visit me here,  and please let me know what you think. The title is “Olivia Ocelot Saves the Day: Adventures in the Desert”. When it’s completed I’ll publish it in book form.

Long Time No Blogging

I’ve been very busy for the past few weeks. I’ve been working on a coloring book that is a companion for my Olivia Ocelot book about the awesome  animals in the Rainforest in Costa Rica.

This bright and entertaining coloring book about the Rainforest is so much fun and so relaxing to use. It contains 10 pages of educational and creative line drawing illustrations adapted from Anne Crary Jantz’s Book, “Olivia Ocelot Comes to the Rescue: Adventures in the Rainforest”. Each page has a black and white outline drawing as well as a small thumbnail color photo as a suggestion for you and a block of text with interesting facts about the animals and plants on that page. Learn about the unique and fascinating creatures in the Rainforest while you are enjoying some peaceful and therapeutic art activities. This coloring book is suitable for all ages and it’s perfect for colored pencils.

Each page is 8 1/2″ X 11″. The whole coloring book can be downloaded in one PDF file. I know you and your children will enjoy it. Here is the Link: https://www.etsy.com/shop/AnneJantzDotCom?ref=profile_shopname

Cora Cowbird, The Nemesis for Olivia Ocelot and her Birdy Neighbors

Hello again!  In my  last post I talked about the problem posed by cowbirds for other birds. In this post I’d like to talk about it with you. Cowbirds sneak into other birds’ nest early in the morning and lay one of their eggs, and then they head for the hills, leaving the unwilling hosts to hatch and raise their chicks.

This behavior began back in the days when American Bison roamed om our Great Plains.  Back then today’s Cowbirds were called  Buffalo Birds by the Plains settlers because they began to follow the herds around, feeding on seeds in the huge piles of Buffalo manure.

Since the birds depended on wandering herds for food, they needed to pack up their little suitcases and hit the dusty trail as well if they wanted to survive. They turned int Roadies for the Buffalo. The problem, of course, is that  roadie birds can’t tend their nests. So the buffalo birds started leaving their eggs in the care of other birds, an arrangement that seemed to work pretty darn well, at least for the buffalo birds..

Unfortunately, during the 1800s, the wide sweeping prairies and the buffalo disappeared, replaced by pasture and cattle.  The birds remained and started hanging out with cows instead of buffalo, eating insects in the grass, ticks on the livestock, and seeds and grain.  So the  buffalo bird eventually became known as the cowbird.

Today, the cowbirds still lay their eggs in the nests of other birds,  maintaining the parasitic lifestyle of their ancestors.  Cowbirds lay their eggs in the nests of more than 200 other species of birds. It works pretty well for some other species of birds. If the “host” (unwilling and unwitting host !!!) birds are the same size or larger than the cowbird, then their own babies have a fighting chance against the little interlopers.

Unfortunately, many of these birds tend to be smaller species, and in these cases the young cowbirds come to dominate the nests, pushing out the other young or pirating away the food. The result is that cowbird species thrives at the expense of hundreds of others. This is especially critical when it comes to endangered species in the Bird Kingdom.

In “Olivia Ocelot Comes to the Rescue: Adventures in the Rainforest”, a bird named Penelope, an Oropendola bird comes to Olivia Ocelot with this problem. Oropendola birds build their nests in huge colonies in tall rainforest trees. There can be 50 or more nests in one tree. Penelope tells Olivia Ocelot that Cora Cowbird is laying her eggs in their nests, and they are tired of it. The rest of the story in “Olivia Ocelot Comes to the Rescue: Adventures in the Rainforest” is devoted to finding a solution for Penelope Oropendola and her colony of birds. Of course Olivia gets an answer for them.

 

 

 

I found the wonderful photo at the top of this post at the following website: http://www.larkwire.com/library/bird-sounds/1925/Brown-headed-Cowbird-songs-and-calls

This is Olivia Ocelot’s Blog!!!

Here we go with Olivia Ocelot’s Blog. I hope you will keep coming back to see the new posts as you and I travel through the animal kingdom with Olivia Ocelot. We are starting in the Rainforest, and then we will be visiting the desert with Olivia Ocelot. After that, we will be going to the temperate forests of Michigan. Our goal is to inform you, entertain you and involve you in the wonderful world of nature.