Kathryn Otoshi, illustrator and author of the children’s books One, Zero, and the soon-to-be-released Two, gave a group of about 35 teachers and counselors insight into her writing and illustration process at an educators breakfast sponsored by ADL during Congregation Beth Yeshurun’s Young Authors Conference.
Otoshi first said that the theme all of her books essentially follow is: “Life presents us with choices, and our choices define who we are.” She focused mainly on her book One, which addresses bullying, self-esteem, inclusion, standing up for oneself and others, and the idea that one person can make a difference; one person can count.
The book follows several colors, including blue and red, and the way they interact. Blue is quiet and cool. Red is hot, quick to anger, and somewhat of a bully. There are other colors, Yellow, Green, Purple, and Orange who stand by as Red picks on Blue. Finally, the number 1 stands up to Blue, and all the colors change. All the colors count, and as the book says on the last page, “Sometimes it takes just one.”
Otoshi also read her book, Zero, which focuses on what’s inside all of us, and spoke about her upcoming book, Two, which examines friendship, and what happens when we lose a friend.
Her presentation resonated with the educators, who quietly and intently listened as Otoshi explained how she came up with her book ideas and how she illustrates all of her books. They were absorbed in her story about her own childhood, and how she stood by and observed as another student was bullied, something that led her to write One.
The educators in attendance were from ADL No Place for Hate® schools. Many of them complimented Otoshi and ADL on the presentation and one said he was going to go back to his district and work to integrate One and Zero into the curriculum of all the district’s schools.