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Narberth Author's Work Chosen for Pennsylvania One Book




Zachariah OHora

Narberth, PA resident Zachariah OHora’s My Cousin Momo is this year’s Pennsylvania One Book, Every Young Child selection.

The book, about a flying squirrel that isn’t what his cousins expect, will be used across the state to get preschoolers engaged with reading.

Pennsylvania picked Zach’s debut children’s book, Stop Snoring Bernard!, as a One Book selection in 2012, too.

Zach is the father of 4th- and 2nd-grade sons, who still enjoy his books, for now. “I’ve got at least two years before they are embarrassed by me so I’m enjoying every minute of it,” he tells us.

Here are a few things that we wanted to know:
 

What was your favorite book as a child?
“Richard Scarry’s What Do People Do All Day continues to have a big influence on everything I do. I think the thing that appealed to me as a child was that it’s an entire book of well-dressed animals having one long accident, kind of like a Three Stooges episode but with a gorilla driving a banana car. As an adult I learned how house plumbing works from it.”
 

There is a Flyers pennant in the squirrels’ house. Shoutout to the hometown hockey team?
“That was a happy accident/dad pun. I don’t follow any professional sports but I do try to throw in some jokes for the parents to catch one of the times they are forced to read my books. I call it the Pixar method, if you have a story that entertains kids on one level and cracks the parents up on another level then everyone wins.”
 

You toured libraries across the state for the One Book program. Did you learn anything from kids’ reactions to the book that surprised you?
“I was surprised by the amount of knowledge that kids had in general about authors and illustrators and book making as well as facts about flying squirrels and the like. Thanks to all the amazing librarians and teachers across the state for that. I was also struck by the amount of empathy that kids elicited for Momo’s predicament and I find that encouraging for what I do but also for the whole human race.”

Fun facts about squirrels

These are from an activity guide for the book that can be downloaded from Pennsylvania One Book.

  • Flying squirrels and tree squirrels do not hibernate.
  • Tree squirrels bury food in the ground for winter. Any nuts that they do not collect can turn into a tree.
  • A squirrel’s tail helps it balance. It can also be used as an umbrella in light rain.
  • A chipmunk can carry 32 beechnuts at one time.
  • Squirrels have four front teeth that never stop growing.
  • Flying squirrels can’t actually fly. Instead they glide through the air with the help of flaps of skin that connect their limbs.
  • The only type of squirrel that is active at night is the flying squirrel.

How to raise a reader

There is also a Fun Guide available for download that includes tips on reading with your kids. Here are a few of them:

  • Set up a comfortable place to snuggle and read. The act of being close together adds another positive feeling to reading.
  • Give different voices to characters and use sound effects. Use a different voice for brother, sister, and Momo. Add special emphasis to each “Pok” and “Crunch.”
  • Ask open-ended questions while you read. For example, ask which superhero costume would you like to wear?
  • Reading the same book multiple times may seem boring, however, children enjoy feeling smart because they know what is coming next.
  • Talk, Write, Read, Play, and Sing together. These five practices are key elements of early literacy.
  • Make sure kids see adults reading for pleasure.
  • Read all day long. Read signs that you see in stores. Read labels on food.

 

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