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Little Oh

Little Oh

by Laura Krauss Melmed

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Illustrated with exquisite paintings, this original fairy tale about an origami girl who comes to life is a tender and exciting adventure. From her wild river ride aboard a teacup boat to her escape from an angry dog to her flight home on the neck of a crane to her transformation into a real little girl, Little Oh is sure to capture your heart.



Illustrated with exquisite paintings, this original fairy tale about an origami girl who comes to life is a tender and exciting adventure. From her wild river ride aboard a teacup boat to her escape from an angry dog to her flight home on the neck of a crane to her transformation into a real little girl, Little Oh is sure to capture your heart.

2000-2001 Georgia's Picture Storybook Award & Georgia's Children's Book Award Masterlist

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Sheree Van Vreede
The story of Little Oh is a fairytale of an origami doll that comes to life. Readers follow Little Oh on her adventures, discovering just how dangerous a dog or water can be to someone made of paper. Little Oh becomes the tie that brings a family together. It is a book that stretches the imagination. Creative, colorful illustrations make the book even more appealing.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 4--This appealing original fantasy set in old Japan reunites the creators of The Rainbabies (Lothrop, 1992). This story, too, features a magical child, an origami paper doll made by a woman who lives alone and works as a potter. The woman puts the doll in a lacquer box beside her bed at night, and the next morning the doll comes to life and names herself after the woman's astonished exclamation. Delighted with the living paper doll that calls her "mother," the woman tries to protect the tiny, fragile child from harm. Inevitably, Little Oh becomes lost and embarks on a series of dangerous adventures before she finds her way back home. Along the way, Little Oh meets a man and his son, who needs a mother, and her own final transformation brings the story to a satisfying conclusion. While the narrative echoes folktales told around the world, the realistic colored paintings establish setting and character with loving specificity. Each double-page spread, elegantly balancing art and text, takes a carefully imagined point of view. Whether long shots or close-ups, the illustrations resonate with the changing emotions of the story: love, danger, loss, flight, reunion. The artwork celebrates imperial Japan: the familiar subjects of Japanese art, mountains and mist, gardens, pine trees, reeds, and a flying crane are rendered accurately in fresh, original interpretations. The artist's precise portraits of the characters, captured mid-gesture, invite readers into the heart of this warm, old-fashioned story.--Margaret A. Chang, North Adams State College, MA
Kirkus Reviews
Like these collaborators' The Rainbabies (1992), this work has parental love as its theme. Little Oh, an origami girl who has come to life for her creator, a lonely Japanese woman, is lost one day in a bustling market. She is chased by a hungry dog, floated down a foaming cataract in a teacup, and flown homeward by a friendly crane. A motherless boy finds her, and when he and his father return Little Oh to her mother, the paper girl miraculously becomes a human child, the man and woman fall in love and marry, and Little Oh's family is complete. This new work belongs in the company of such standards as The Steadfast Tin Soldier, Pinocchio, The Peach Boy, and Thumbelina. Once again, LaMarche demonstrates his extraordinary ability to portray emotions in the human face, and his soft mixed-media paintings are filled with details of exceptional beauty: cracks in the glaze of a porcelain cup, the sheen of orange skins, evergreens blanketed in golden early-morning mist. A flawless work: Readers are certain to look carefully at Little Oh's folds, and attempt to make an origami doll, too.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
9.25(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.32(d)
AD720L (what's this?)
Age Range:
5 - 9 Years

Meet the Author

Laura Krauss Melmed is author of Capital! Washington D.C. from A to Z and New York, New York! The Big Apple from A to Z, also illustrated by Frané Lessac; I Love You As Much . . . , illustrated by Henri Sorensen; and the critically acclaimed The Rainbabies, illustrated by Jim LaMarche. She lives with her husband in Washington, D.C.

Jim LaMarche wrote and illustrated The Raft. He also illustrated Little Oh and The Rainbabies, both by Laura Krauss Melmed. He lives in Santa Cruz, California. In His Own Words...

"It's funny how things turn out. I wasn't one of those kids with a clear vision of the future, the ones who know at age five that they will be writers or doctors or artists. I liked to draw, but then, so did most of the kids I knew, and growing up to be an artist never really occurred to me. What I did want to be, in order of preference, was a magician, Davy Crockett, a doctor, a priest (until I found out they couldn't get married), and a downhill ski racer.

"But I always loved to make things, and once I got going on a project I loved, I stuck with it. Once, when I was five or six, I cut a thousand cloth feathers out of an old sheet, which I then attempted to glue to my bony little body. I was sure I could have flown off the back porch if I'd just had a better glue. Another time I dug up some smooth blue-gray clay from the field behind our house, then molded it into an entire zoo, dried the animals in the sun, and painted them as realistically as I could. I made a grotto out of cement, a shoe box, and my fossil collection. I made moccasins out of an old deerhide I found in the basement.

"I grew up in the little Wisconsin town of Kewaskum, the soul of which was the Milwaukee River. In the summer we rafted on it and swam in it. In the winter we skated on it, sometimes traveling miles upriver. In the spring and fall my dad took us on long canoe trips, silently sneaking up on deer, heron, and fields of a thousand Canada geese. And almost all year long we fished for bullheads and northerns from the dam.

"I began college at the University of Wisconsin as a biology major, but somewhere along the line—I'm not sure when or even why—I switched to art, and graduated with a bachelor of science degree in art. I still had no idea of becoming a professional artist, however. In the meantime, I joined VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) and moved to Bismarck, North Dakota, to work with United Tribes of North Dakota creating school curriculum materials. It was a great job. Because there were only a few of us, I was able to try my hand at a little of everything: writing, graphic design, photography, and illustration. It was then that I slowly realized that it might be possible for me to make a living at art. I moved to California, and in the evenings-after working all day as a carpenter's assistant—I put together a portfolio.

"Twenty years later, I'm still here, living in Santa Cruz with my wife, Toni, and our three sons, Mario, Jean-Paul, and Dominic. The Pacific Ocean is only a few blocks away, and the scenery is very different from that of the Midwest, but somehow Kewaskum and the Milwaukee River show up in almost everything I draw. They provided the details of setting for The Rainbabies, Carousel, and Grandmother's Pigeon, and they are the setting for the book I'm working on now, my own story about the magic of a raft.

"I feel very lucky to have ended up as an illustrator of children's books. And maybe that isn't so different from my childhood dream of being a magician after all. Starting with a clean sheet of paper and with nothing up my sleeves, I get to create something that was never there before."

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