Press

2010 Publisher’s Weekly:

Odone’s retelling of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland reinvents the world not as dark and dangerous–as many modern interpretations have done–but with all the whimsy and wonder of a child chasing a mysterious white rabbit. Mixing text with stick figure illustrations, Odone follows an Alice who is now somewhat pluckier than in her original incarnation as she meets the iconic Wonderland residents. What is thankfully lost in the translation are the political subtexts that made Carroll’s original work less like a fairy tale and more like a story of caution. Alice is simply a girl who outwits the bumbling and the bad rulers of Wonderland. The Red Queen is a villain and not a political allegory. Fans of Odone’s other works, Honey Badgers and The Bedtime Train, will find Alice to be a departure from his regular style, but his neat little stick drawings are wholly reminiscent of how children actually draw during their early artistic years, making it an easy book to pick up. Odone’s lighthearted take on the characters is refreshing; it allows the story to breathe and see itself in a new and magical way. Ages 4–8. (Mar.)

2010 Midwest Book Review:

“Stickfiguratively Speaking: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” is a sophisticated, delightful retelling of the classic children’s tale by Jamison Odone. The quirky, black and white illustrations of Stickfiguratively Speaking bring the familiar characters encountered in “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” to new life. Sparseness is all in this reworking of a familiar classic, there is much paring away of excess verbiage and all artworks are fully expected to do just that, work! In addition, Jamison Odone has created a special drawing of his Alice stick figure without hair to publicize fundraising efforts of 46 Mommas who are mothers of children with cancer working to raise funds and awareness of children cancer victims and their needs. PublishingWorks, Inc. has set up a special code (46MOMMAS) on their website with 20% of the book’s proceeds going to 46 Mommas. “Stickfiguratively Speaking: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” presents a new challenge and interpretation of a much beloved classic in children’s literature, infusing new life into an old familiar. Children age 7 and up and parents will enjoy this revisiting of the Lewis Carroll original.

The Ridgefield Press. Ridgefield, CT 2007:

Arts & Leisure
Honey Badgers

Apr 12, 2007

Jamison Odone%u2019s new book, Honey Badgers, has gained some very positive reviews. The author will be signing copies at Dandy Tales Book Shop, 13 South Avenue, New Canaan (203-996-7713), 11 a.m. to noon on Saturday, April 14.

First book: first step
for Ridgefield artist

by Gerri Lewis

It might be fair to wonder if fame and fortune will go to Jamison Odone’s head, now that the 26-year-old has published his first children’s book. OK, so maybe his is not exactly a household name — at least not yet. But with this month’s publication of Honey Badgers, a children’s picture book written and illustrated by Mr. Odone, and with other projects already queuing up, he is well on his way to at least making a name in the business. So, maybe young Mr. Odone might have good reason to let success go to his head, but the emotionally self-contained young man remains restrained.

“I still feel the same because to me this is a first step towards what I would like my career to be,” said the casually dressed guy who looks as though he must still get asked for ID in bars. “My goal is not to just say that I had my book published. I plan to keep on doing this because I feel as though I have many pictures to paint and many stories to tell.”

And he has lots of time to do it.

And yet, as Mr. Odone closes in on his 27th birthday, he seems to be painting and writing with the fervor of someone three times his age. He sleeps only a few hours a day and works almost non-stop, often putting in 19 hours. His job at Grande Harvest Wines in Ridgefield helps pay the bills and allows him the freedom to whip out his little black sketchbook whenever the store is not busy.

So when you come across Jamison Odone, who still wears a modified bowl cut hair style (a leftover from his youth) and a signature Red Sox cap (the Gloucester-born only child is an avid fan), he appears unassuming and a little shy when it comes to talking about himself. Below the surface, however, lurks a confident, ambitious go-getter. Like a good mystery worthy of unraveling, the real Jamison is revealed gradually — through conversation and especially through the pages of his first book.

A family

Honey Badgers, published by Front Street, is a short and sweet romp through 14 colorfully illustrated pages. The entire text has fewer than 20 lines, all of which are on the left pages, while framed pictures leap from the opposite side. The book speaks volumes, not just for the message it sends, but for the talent of its author. The imaginative plot depicts a little boy growing up with honey badgers as parents. As Jamison writes, these “mammals that are considered pound for pound, the most fearless animals in the world” create an unusual set of parents. Their adopted son, who recognizes the absurdity of his circumstances — sleeping in a den and eating flowers while his parents dine on snake — contentedly acknowledges that his family is different from others.

“I wanted him to be appealingly uninfluenced by things around him — I wanted him to have an acceptance,” explained Mr. Odone. “You don’t have to have everything — things don’t have to be perfect to truly be happy.”

The underlying message is colorfully presented with stand-alone illustrations that are a blend of thoughtful imagery and carefree playfulness. Some are intentionally symbolic, some not.

“Sometimes (the images) are there because I like them and sometimes they do have lots of meaning,” he explained. “The lions in this book are placed there to protect the boy from the natural predator of the honey badger. On the second to last page, the boy is holding three football mums — this is because somebody near to my life passed away — this was her favorite flower and she also has three daughters. This is how sometimes I can make my paintings and stories personal yet not have it interfere with the story for the reader’s experience.”

But the ultimate goal for Mr. Odone was to write a book that kids wouldn’t want to put down. “I wanted to make something that is important now and still will exist after.”

Mr. Odone is happy with his book, but he says whenever he looks at it, he notices things that he might like to change.

“An author friend of mine from Rhode Island described to me how he felt as though he had given birth when he finished his last book. I started thinking that if this was the case for me then I would be a bad parent because I would ‘tweak’ small things about the way my child looks…bad parent, right?”

Early reviews

Parenting aside, Jamison Odone can’t hide his childlike enthusiasm as he skims the Internet to find out how his book is being reviewed.

“I need to stop looking at this review because of how good it is for a first…” he said referring to a review in Publishers Weekly that read: “Odone, tapping into a powerful vein of fantasy (what child would not rush to move into a cozy den with two gentle, furry parents) has created the kind of book certain children will cling to, years after they abandon the rest of their picture book collections.”

The review compares some of the “somber palette and heavily crosshatched, pen-and-ink and watercolor wash illustrations” to those of author/illustrator Maurice Sendak. The comparison thrills Mr. Odone. Mr. Sendak is a good friend and a talent Mr. Odone admires. He even named the “father” honey badger after his mentor.

“The character Maurice is very much a nod to him,” said Mr. Odone. “He’s a good friend. He is someone who has so much talent in his little pinky; a single sentence can be inspiring. He helped me develop my ability and to feel confident with the way I was painting.”

Mr. Odone is riding high for the moment and although he doesn’t want to “jinx” things by talking too much about future plans, he is excited about his prospects. He is doing concept drawings for Timeless Toys of California, for a line of Honey Badgers plush dolls. Mr. Odone is also illustrating a book, The Bedtime Train (also published by Front Street) for award-winning child and young adult author, Joy Crowley.

“I spend a lot more time when it is someone else’s story,” said Mr. Odone. “It is a bit tougher illustrating a text that is not your own…at least for me it is. I really have to create in my head an entire universe that I dream correct for the text. Creating a universe takes me soooo much longer than seven days — as I read in a book once!!”

Mr. Odone credits publisher Stephen Roxburgh and designer Helen Robinson, both of Front Street, for encouragement, education and for making his book even better. He says he has learned a lot about everything from writing, editing and design to marketing. Mr. Odone, like many authors is an active participant in marketing his book.

“…they do what they do (meaning the publisher) and I do all I can as well,” he wrote in an e-mail. “Interviews, signings, readings, direct mailings, climbing on the top of the highest building and yelling out ‘HONEYYYYYY BADGERSSSS!!!!’”

As Mr. Odone comes off the highest building, he clears his throat to contemplate success. Right now he has a lot of reason for yelling at the top of his lungs. But in the end he said, “I still feel like me.”

* * * *

Mr. Odone will have two signing events later this month:

April 14: Dandy Tales Book Shop, 13 South Avenue, New Canaan (203-996-7713), 11 a.m. to noon: Book signing.

April 28: Ridgefield Guild of Artists, Halpin Lane, Ridgefield (203-438-8863), 5-6pm: Opening of an exhibit of all the work from Honey Badgers — follow the author’s process from start to finish in exhibit entitled “My First Book.” Book signing.

© Copyright 2007 by Hersam Acorn Newspapers

The Granite State Newspaper
Honey badgers come to life in Odone’s first book
Wolfeboro helped inspire some illustrations

BY MICHELLE GIGUERE
Staff Writer
WOLFEBORO — It all started in a doctor’s office. Jamison Odone was waiting for a friend and reading about honey badgers in a “National Geographic” article.

“I thought to myself, ‘I can write something odd about these creatures,’” said Odone.

Now, more than two years later, the first-time author has finally seen his vision turned into a colorful reality through his book “Honey Badgers.”

Odone, who graduated from the Art Institute of Boston and now lives in Ridgefield, Conn., came to Wolfeboro to seclude himself while he worked on his book. He had done some research on small New England towns to which he could escape and eventually ended up at The Suite Inn.

“On the lake in the middle of winter, good diners and bookstores were also a selling point,” said Odone of what attracted him to the town.

Wolfeboro inspired him a great deal as he chipped away at the intricate illustrations that accompany his writing.

“My favorite part of the day was being able to take a walk down by the lake and look out over the drifting snow,” said Odone. “It was just what I needed.”

According to Odone, his mentor has been Maurice Sendak (best known for the book “Where the Wild Things Are”). Odone calls Sendak’s work “beautiful” and “inspiring.” Odone noted that his book is actually “a nod” to Sendak, as one of the honey badgers is named Maurice.

According to a Publishers Weekly review from February, the publication agrees that Sendak’s inspiration can be seen in Odone’s illustrations.

“Odone’s debut book makes a deep bow to Maurice Sendak, with its somber palette and heavily crosshatched, pen-and-ink and watercolor wash illustrations,” reads the review. “But the affectionate, dreamy text is his (Odone’s) own.”

This is exactly what Odone hopes readers will take from his book about a boy who was raised by two honey badgers, Maurice and June.

“I hope that [readers] will look at it as a calming, dreamy experience,” Odone said. “And also possibly appreciate the complexity of the illustrations coupled with the simplicity of the text.”

The text is indeed uncomplicated; “I get along well with honey badgers. In fact, I was raised by a pair – Maurice and June. They are good parents,” reads the opening of the story.

However, the illustrations that accompany the tale are complex and intricate, incorporating symbolic allusions.

According to the Publishers Weekly review, “Visual references to myth (empty boats), fallen civilizations (Mayan stone sculptures), and wealth and education (velvet drapes and leather-bound books) give the story elegant resonance without weighing it down.”

Throughout the whole process, Odone has most enjoyed creating these images.

“My favorite part is knowing where I am going with the paintings,” he said. “Once I can visualize the book in my head, then the paintings seem to come out better.”

Though like most artists, Odone added, he can always find little things on which he feels he could do a bit better. However, he is very pleased with how his first book turned out.

Currently, Odone is illustrating the book “The Bedtime Train” by New Zealand-based author Joy Cowley. This book is set for release in the fall of 2008.

Odone now understands firsthand how long of a process creating a book truly is. The hardest part for Odone was waiting the two years between signing a contract with his publisher Boyds Mills Press and actually seeing his book on the shelves (the official release date was April 1).

However, the payoff is worth all the hard work, as Odone discovered.

“I love doing it, and I will always continue to write and illustrate books,” he said.

“Honey Badgers” is now available nationally. If your local bookstore does not carry it yet, Odone suggested asking the store to consider “Honey Badgers,” which is for ages 4 and up. The book can also be ordered through the publisher, Boyds Mills Press, or online at Amazon (www.amazon.com), Barnes & Noble (www.barnesandnoble.com) and Borders (www.borders.com).

For more information about the book, visit the link on the publisher’s Web site, http://www.frontstreetbooks.com/books/picture_book/honey_badgers.html.

Michelle Giguere can be reached at 569-3126 or mgiguere@salmonpress.com.

ILLUSTRATION CAPTIONS:

JAMISON ODONE is the author and illustrator of the recently released book, “Honey Badgers.”

ABOVE IS THE cover of the new book “Honey Badgers,” by first-time author Jamison Odone, who was inspired by author Maurice Sendak and Wolfeboro while writing.

AUTHOR AND ILLUSTRATOR Jamison Odone spent time in Wolfeboro to create some of the images, like the one above, for his new book called “Honey Badgers.”

Publishers Weekly:

Publishers Weekly review of Honey Badgers February 19th, 2007: Odone’s debut book makes a deep bow to Maurice Sendak, with its somber palette and heavily crosshatched, pen-and-ink and watercolor wash illustrations. But the affectionate, dreamy text is his own. “I get along well with honey badgers,” the boy narrator begins. “In fact, I was raised by a pair-Maurice and June. They are good parents,” he adds. On the opposite page June, in a warm red overcoat, holds out her arms to a naked, Sendak-style foundling. (Honey badgers are carnivorous African mammals, making Maurice and June’s solicitousness particularly heartwarming.) Telegraphic sentences on the left-hand pages (“We have a small stream nearby to sip from”) accompany framed pictures on the right; here, the boy and Maurice, sporting warm sweaters to ward off the chill, drink on hands and knees, surrounded by a forest of gnarled trees. Visual references to myth (empty boats), fallen civilizations (Mayan stone sculptures), and wealth and education (velvet drapes and leather-bound books) give the story elegant resonance without weighing it down. “It is late now,” the boy says. “I think I’ll go to bed.” Maurice and June stand guard as he sleeps under an enormous canopy. Odone, tapping into a powerful vein of fantasy (what child would not rush to move into a cozy den with two gentle, furry parents-) has created the kind of book certain children will cling to, years after they abandon the rest of their picture book collections. Ages 4-up.(Apr.) Copyright © 1997-2005 Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Sweet strange honey,

December 7, 2007

By E. R. Bird “Ramseelbird”

Imagine a book that was basically the lovechild of Maurice Sendak and Edward Gorey, with the sweetness of a Mem Fox outing worked in there for spice. Hold that image in your mind and you might begin to get an inkling of the pretty little oddity that is “Honey Badgers”. It is difficult for a picture book to tread the fine line between quirkiness and incomprehensible muck. “Honey Badgers” not only treads, but dances upon this line, producing an oddly sweet, if baffling, tale of unconventional families and how normalcy differs within each and every household.

“I get along with honey badgers,” says our narrator. This stands to reason when you consider that a pair raised him. Maurice and June have been good to their adopted son. Certainly they are different from him. While they eat snakes, he eats flowers. But they’re caring, affectionate adoptive parents, often making kites with their boy out of ferns, living quietly in their den. The boy admits that this kind of life may seem strange to some, but it has nothing on his friend who lives with a pair of creeping beetles. “That’s absurd!” That said, he goes to bed, his loving honey badger parents looking on.

So, I’m a little ashamed to admit this, but prior to reading this book I didn’t even know that there even were creatures out there called honey badgers. You might know them by their other name, ratels. Whatever the case, as strange as the book can be, Odone has certain facts right. Honey badgers like their honey, sure, but snakes are what they’re known for eating. The Guinness Book of World Records calls them “the most fearless animals in the world”, which doesn’t really come into play in the story. And kids hoping that this book might give them some report material on honey badgers are going to be disappointed, not to mention downright befuddled.

I got a shocking amount of information off of the bookflap of this title, which is a good or a bad thing, depending on how you want to look at it. Apparently the hero of this tale is a boy. I suppose Front Street would know. They wrote the book, after all, but I am just as comfortable believing the protagonist to be a girl. I also learned that honey badgers are “considered, pound for pond, the most fearless animals in the world.” That doesn’t really come up in the story but it sounds nice on a page. The bookflap ends with, “Jamison Odone has written a sprightly nonsense tale and filled it with radiant, exotic imagery that demands and rewards close attention.” And that is something that we call all agree on.

Sendak is the greatest influence on Odone, it seems. For one thing, the honey badgers’ names are Maurice and June. If anyone can explain the “June” to me, please do. I would have done better with “Maurice and Ursula”. The art is entirely Sendakian too. From the color scheme to the mild eccentricities, to the image of the narrator as a naked baby, the book comes across as nothing so much as a gentle homage. It has a mood, however, and delicate wordplay of an Edward Gorey creation. Sentences like, “They found me in a basket, on top of a rock, covered with a herringbone-patterned wool blanket,” or the seeming non-sequitor, “Last week, an empty boat floated down the stream,” bear his mark. So too does the umbrella the honey badgers carry. It sports an emblem of a skull with feathered wings, and appears in most of the scenes. But at the beginning of this review I mentioned “the sweetness of a Mem Fox outing,” and I’ll stand by that statement. Sendak and Gorey have their charms, but it was the gentle sweetness of the book that stayed with me long after I turned the last page in the story. You can be weird all you want, but unless you provide a little heart to your tale, you’ll just remain another forgettable oddity.

Sometimes you need a picture book that’s not going to be like anything else you’ve read before. I might have been reminded of similar artists when I read, “Honey Badgers”, but I consider it wholly original in terms of text and type. Somehow the entire mood of the piece leaves you feeling happy. I can easily see this becoming a favorite bedtime story for some children, even if they can’t put into words what it is about the tale that makes them so happy. You should always keep a couple picture books on hand to build up and influence your children’s nighttime dreams. “Honey Badgers” is perfect for this purpose. Sweet, strange, sublime.

A boy brought up by mammals considered the most fearless creatures in the world, May 13, 2007

By Midwest Book Review (Oregon, WI USA) – See all my reviews

Jamison Odone’s HONEY BADGERS tells of a boy brought up by mammals considered the most fearless creatures in the world – and so he himself is gentle and fearless as a result. Funny images about a boy’s life as an honorary honey badger complete with honey badger father and family provide a gentle story kids

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