Jun 12, 2014

ERIC ROHMANN- Words of Wit and Wisdom

I've attended presentations in which Eric Rohmann entertains, informs,  and inspires kids. I've attended others in which he entertains, informs, and inspires educators. Last weekend I was lucky enough to attend a full day workshop in which he directed his attention to the people who attempt to create picture books that entertain, inform, and inspire kids of all ages. 

The workshop was open to writers as well as illustrators. Unless you've made a serious effort at writing a picture book, that may seem strange. None of us who attended had the slightest doubt about the value of his messages, examples, and intent. Every word, even the punchlines and banter, found their way to the heart of the work on picture books, whether writing or illustrating. 

Picture books are not coffee table collections of fine art, although the art involved is often nothing short of brilliant. Recent posts about Wendell Minor's body of work should make that clear. in fact, the format known as "picture book" demands a mastery of not only art or story, with all the talent, technique, and finesse that both entail. Picture books demand a  seamless weaving of those in ways that defy description, but can be observed, practiced, and mastered. 

The bottom line is Eric Rohmann is just such a master. What's more, he is a master teacher, able to adjust his message and content to the appropriate audience, consistently delivered with humor and an approachable style. 
You may already be his biggest fan and not know it if you adore his books but never paid attention to the name. It happens all too often. But then, that's the paradox of being such a master- the work takes center stage, its power outshining any details like names and credits because the reader's attention is so fully absorbed by the story itself.

I won't commit the sin of listing in detail the specific advice or the grand themes he addressed. I will say that if you ever have half a chance to attend one of his presentations you should knock down walls to get there. You won't regret it. For sheer entertainment value alone, he can't be beat. The value, though, extended far beyond entertainment. Our day was filled with wit and wisdom, as the post title indicates. But in the case of Eric Rohmann, this is no cliche or trite label. His words, demonstrations, and examples were revealing in the moment, resonant upon reflection, and resilient. They apply to picture books of every type, aimed at every audience, on every topic. They transcend classics published seven decades ago through to the most cutting edge current titles. 

Now that's impressive. Thanks, Wisconsin SCBWI, and thank you, Eric Rohmann.
Co-RA, Michael Kress-Russick; Illustration Chairperson Deb Gross; Erik Rohmann

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