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Debbie Ridpath Ohi reads, writes and illustrates for young people. Every few weeks, she shares new art, writing and resources; subscribe below. Browse the archives here.

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What people are saying about I'M BORED:

"Read I'M BORED to children's choir last evening. They have never, ever laughed aloud so much! Reading Success!" - Twitter post by Marjorie Bowman


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Justin Chanda picks Debbie as the illustrator for I'M BORED - yay!


Continuing my series on how I'M BORED was created...

I was approached about illustrating I'M BORED at the SCBWI children's book writer/illustrator conference in 2010. If you're an aspiring children's/YA book writer or illustrator, I strongly recommend joining the SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators)!

Up to this particular event, I considered myself mainly a writer, doing a little bit of drawing on the side. Everything changed at this event, however. You can read the full story on, but here's a summary:

My friend Beckett Gladney convinced me to enter the Illustrator Portfolio Showcase for the first time, and helped me put together my first portfolio. She also made me a gorgeous portfolio cover (see Beckett's Etsy shop for her other custom-made items). You can see my portfolio and its contents online.

Three amazing things happened:

1. I was picked for the SCBWI Illustration Mentorship Program by Penguin art director Cecilia Yung.

2. I won an Honor Award (one of two runners-up) in the overall Portfolio Awards.

And (insert drumroll here)...

3. Justin Chanda told me he had a picture book for me to illustrate. (!!!!)

Later on, I asked Justin whether he attended that year's SCBWI Summer Conference with the goal of finding an illustrator for I'm Bored. His answer:

I did not, actually. It was my first time at SCBWI-LA and I was really just trying to get my head around what to do while I was there. Judging the art show was actually something that came up the day I arrived. It was a last minute ask and I was really glad to fill in… but it wasn’t until I saw your portfolio that I instantly thought “Here’s the illustrator for I’M BORED”. And it was instantaneous.


I also asked Justin about what it was about my portfolio that made him think I was the right illustrator. His answer:

There was a sense of whimsy and definite style. I loved the assorted cast of characters, but I loved your point of view just as much.  I remember there was an illustration of a robot who had lost his arm and one of a little girl looking at these tiny monsters.  In both instances I got a clear sense of character, a sense of humor, and a sense of style.

I'll be posting more about more details about his decision process in later this year.

Happily, Michael Ian Black was also in agreement about the choice of illustrator. From Justin:

Michael is one of the funniest guys I know, but he takes his kids books very seriously. We’ve done three books together prior to I’M BORED and the selection of the artist for each was a pretty long process. We sifted through all kinds of options and choices. With this though, it was a whole different story. I sent him your stuff and he wrote back 10 minutes later: “I love the minimalist style. Love her.” And that, as they say, was that.


Next post: Michael on what inspired him to write I'M BORED.