Jennifer O’Connell

   Jennifer O’Connell is an award-winning author and illustrator of picture books including the New York Times Bestseller, Ten Timid Ghosts. Working in acrylics and oils, Jennifer enjoys conjuring both whimsical and realistic imagery. She loves the challenge of designing and painting illustrations that create a world within a picture book.

   Jennifer grew up in Darien, Connecticut and earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in illustration from The University of the Arts in Philadelphia. She currently lives in Bethesda, Maryland with her husband, Kevin.

Selected Reviews of Jennifer’s Books

The Eye of the Whale: A Rescue Story
Jennifer O’Connell
   “This true story of courage and compassion is brought to life by stunning illustrations. You will be awed and humbled by the deep connections possible between humans and animals. And you will be inspired to do all you can to help protect whales.”
— Jane Goodall, PhD, DBE, Founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and UN Messenger of Peace

It’s Halloween Night!
Jennifer O’Connell
Illustrated by Jennifer Morris
   Looking for a Halloween read-aloud that will keep young children engaged and thinking? If your answer is “yes,” then It’s Halloween Night! will be a sure win. The book’s large text is enhanced by simple illustrations showing a child and a hint of the character the child will be on Halloween on an initial two-page spread. The text, written in the first person, has the child in the picture describing the costume to be worn followed by “I’m a…” encouraging young children to guess the rest of the statement and become involved in the text. The following two-page spread gives the response in text, surrounded by an illustration of the child in full costume. In addition to a fun first-read, the rhyming and predictable text pattern makes the book a good choice for beginning readers. Teachers may also want to chart the text for choral reading and word family work. It’s Halloween Night is a versatile picture book and a positive addition to any primary grade classroom. 2012, Cartwheel Books/Scholastic, $6.99. Ages 5 to 7. Reviewer: Maria Lamattina (Children’s Literature).

Ten Timid Ghosts
Jennifer O’Connell
   A very green witch with a wart on her nose, bat earrings and long red fingernails has decided to move into a haunted house. The ten timid ghosts who are the current occupants are chased away, one by one. When all have vacated the premises, they decide to take a stand and don’t they give that witch a fright. The story and amusing pictures will help kids count down from ten. They will also have fun finding and counting the ghosts on each page and looking for the nasty old witch who is always there–although sometimes she may be a little hard to find. For young kids who crave just a little scare, this book will be a good choice and great fun for Halloween. 2000, Cartwheel/Scholastic, $3.25. Ages 3 to 7. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot (Children’s Literature).

Program Details

Creating The Eye of the Whale (All Ages)
   In this interactive presentation, I share the many steps involved in writing and illustrating The Eye of the Whale. The process included exciting research, interviewing the lead diver of the rescue and motoring out to sea on board the Superfish. I even photographed neighbors posing as crew-members! With PowerPoint slides and props I show the many drafts, storyboards, sketches, dummy books and final paintings that went into the book. I stress how rejection and multiple revisions were an integral part of the process.
   Playing recorded music, I sketch several whales in pastel, which I leave with the group. I share fascinating facts about whales and pass around a life-size model “tooth” of a sperm whale. I also unfurl a life-size painting of a humpback whale’s tail and a newborn baby blue whale that is 23-feet long!
   I end my program by brainstorming with the children ways in which we all can take action to become stewards of the natural world. A lively Q & A session follows.
45 minutes

How Ten Timid Ghosts Came to Be (All Ages)
   In this spirited presentation, I discuss the creation of my picture book, Ten Timid Ghosts. Using PowerPoint slides and props, I show my sketches, dummy books, revisions and final illustrations. I demonstrate the color separation process used in printing by showing a set of four, one-color transparencies which, when laid atop one another, magically form a full-color illustration.
   Toward the end of the presentation, the audience directs me as I draw, and together we create our own unique character. Playing spooky music, I sketch in the setting. Next we all make up a story about our character. The drawing remains with the class and the children are often inspired to create new tales about our character! A lively Q & A session follows. 45 minutes

Workshop – Let’s Create a Picture Book (Grades 2 – Adult)
   After reading Ten Timid Ghosts, I briefly discuss how I created the story and key aspects to consider when creating a picture book. With the participation of the class, I demonstrate how to use six grab-bag “idea boxes” to create a picture book with provided paper, pencils and markers. Then everyone picks ideas from the boxes and soon there are exciting new characters, stories and pictures coming alive in the room. No one is required to use any of the grab-bag ideas for their story, but they are great fun and tend to spark everyone’s creativity and imagination! Each participant puts his/her own picture book together using bristol paper for the cover, hole punched white paper for the pages and decorative fasteners, all of which I provide. 45 – 60 minutes

Fees: For the Washington, DC Metropolitan area – $500 for the first presentation and $150 for each additional presentation. For visits outside the DC area, Skype presentations/interviews, workshops, artist-in-residence programs and adult groups, please email to discuss your needs.

Travel and Lodging: Travel and lodging costs to be covered by booking organization

Additional Information

To learn more about Jennifer and her publications please visit