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Kevin O'Malley (1961-)

Sidelights

Baltimore, Maryland-based author and illustrator Kevin O'Malley began drawing as a child, inspired by the illustrations in Maurice Sendak's groundbreaking children's book Where the Wild Things Are. A prolific author and artist who experiments in a variety of mediums and styles in his illustrations, O'Malley has contributed artwork to numerous books by authors such as Judy Fincher, Michael O. Tunnell, and David A. Adler. O'Malley has also created original titles such as Lucky Leaf, Straight to the Pole, Lucky Leaf, and Little Buggy Runs Away, all of which feature humor and an upbeat ending.

Described as a "simple story" about forgiveness by Booklist reviewer Gillian Engberg, Little Buggy Runs Away finds a young beetle known as Little Buggy determined to run away from home after a fight with Big Buggy. However, despite the help of two friendly ants, the outside world—and a scary lightning storm—proves too intimidating, and Little Buggy eventually learns to put his small disagreement into perspective and decides to return home. home. "Children will easily recognize the bugs' roiling emotions, which O'Malley expertly captures in his characters' faces, and the supporting cast's humorous asides, printed in dialogue bubbles, will elicit some giggles" commented Engberg. "O'Malley's wise decision to start the story after Little Buggy has run away allows youngsters to identify with the diminutive hero's feelings rather than his circumstances," noted a Publishers Weekly critic, adding that the author/illustrator's "Slick visuals, broad humor and . . . warm-hearted portrayal of helpful friends" make Little Buggy a likeable hero for the read-aloud crowd. In Miss Malarkey's Field Trip author/illustrator Kevin O'Malley joins co-author Judy Finchler in recounting the confusion that ensues when a new teacher takes her energetic class on a trip to a nearby science center. A lesson in sticktoitiveness illustrated in comic-book fashion, complete with dialogue balloons and digitized color blocks, Lucky Leaf finds a young video gamester shooed out of doors on a fall day by his parents. Accompanied by the family dog, the boy soon links up with a group of friends who have met the same fate. After a period of boredom, the group decides that a lone leaf hanging in an otherwise bare tree will bring good luck to whichever boy catches it when it falls. Noting that "there's more going on in the pictures than O'Malley's text would indicate," a Kirkus reviewer wrote that video-game fans will "feel right at home in the comic-book format." Predicting that the book's graphic design will attract even reluctant readers, a Publishers Weekly contributor concluded that with Lucky Leaf "O'Malley delivers another triumph for the kids who have to be dragged kicking and screaming away from their action figures and video games."

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, May 1, 2003, Gillian Engberg, review of Mount Olympus Basketball, p. 1594; November 15, 2003, Gillian Engberg, review of Little Buggy Runs Away, p. 602; September 15, 2004, Ilene Cooper, review of Miss Malarkey's Field Trip, p. 248.

Childhood Education, summer, 2003, Amy Livengood, review of You're a Good Sport, Miss Malarkey, p. 245.

Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2003, review of Little Buggy Runs Away, p. 1077; October 1, 2003, review of Straight to the Pole, p. 1228; July 1, 2004, review of Miss Malarkey's Field Trip, p. 628; August 15, 2004, review of Lucky Leaf, p. 810.

Publishers Weekly, October 27, 2003, review of Little Buggy Runs Away, p. 67; November 3, 2003, review of Straight to the Pole, p. 73; October 4, 2004, review of Lucky Leaf, p. 87.

School Library Journal, May, 2003, Marge Loch-Wouters, review of Mount Olympus Basketball, p. 126; November, 2003, Joy Fleishhacker, review of Straight to the Pole, and Grace Oliff, review of Little Buggy Runs Away, p. 112; March, 2004, Andrew Medlar, review of Mount Olympus Basketball, p. 67; April, 2004, review of Straight to the Pole, p. 26, and Mount Olympus Basketball, p. 39.


ONLINE

Embracing the Child Web site, http://www.embracingthechild.org/ (October 23, 2004), "Kevin O'Malley."

Kevin O'Malley Bookpage, http://www.mywebpages.comcast.net/komalley/ (October 23, 2004).

Underdown.org, http://www.underdown.org/ (October 23, 2004), interview with O'Malley.*

Additional topics

Brief BiographiesBiographies: Grace Napolitano: 1936—: Politician to Richard (Wayne) Peck (1934-) Biography - CareerKevin O'Malley (1961-) Biography - Writings, Sidelights - Personal, Addresses, Career