After a career in the corporate world, Charlotte K. Omillin decided to dedicate her time to writing and illustrating stories for children. She’s the author of The Adventures of Zeppi series. A lover of nature and the environment, Omillin interweaves the ecological theme in her series. In it, Zeppi the penguin and his friends learn how to take care of our planet.
Over the years, Omillin has attended several Academies of Arts in Belgium for drawing, painting, and film animation courses. In addition, she’s been a member of several critique groups. She also writes for young adults. You may contact the author at [email protected]. Download free coloring pages of Zeppi at theadventuresofzeppi.wordpress.com.
Thanks for this interview, Charlotte! It’s a pleasure to have you here to talk about your new series for kids. What was your inspiration for Zeppi? How would you describe him?
I once knew a little boy who was crazy about penguins and I made up stories for him. After each tale he asked me, “What happens next?” That’s when I started structuring my ideas and writing down the tales.
Who is Zeppi? He’s a young Adelie penguin born in a zoo. That’s the only environment he knows, surrounded by his parents and his penguin buddies. Zeppi is good-hearted and friendly but also curious, impulsive, and a little opinionated. As he tends to know everything, he gets easily entangled in complicated situations and then learns at his own expense. Young Zeppi is impatient to live and speak like humans. His ecological-minded friend, Alesdor, shows him how easy it is to respect planet Earth.
Zeppi also loves to sing and to eat desserts (anything with chocolate will do!).
Zeppi sounds adorable and I love the ‘green’ angle in your series. I understand the first two books in The Adventures of Zeppi have been published. Tell us a little about the stories and what ties them together.
Zeppi is rescued by a boy, Alesdor, who believes a miracle happened the day he found a penguin in his backyard. So he decides to keep his new friend and hides him in his tepee.
Zeppi and ecological-minded Alesdor will adopt each other and grow together. The stories are also about friendship and acceptance of others’ differences.
Throughout the adventure series, Zeppi becomes an eco-friendly-penguin. Young readers will understand how fun and easy it is having the ‘green attitude’. Children say they’re ready to change their habits but don’t like the negative way the environment issues are presented to them.
I agree with that last statement. What are the reading level and target audience for the series?
It would say children aged five to eight years old. Parents and teachers, who are sensitive preserving our planet, will enjoy the books too.
How many books will there be in the series?
There are 24 adventure stories. The first two are already published, and I’m actually working on the illustrations of book number three.
Wow, you must be busy 24/7! That’s a lot of books. Let’s talk about books 1 & 2. I understand that, besides writing the stories, you also did the artwork. Can you describe what your creative process was like? Did you write the stories first or did you do the art as you wrote them?
Yes, I really wanted to do the artwork myself as I have a clear picture of Zeppi in my mind.
As I said before, I made up the stories for a little boy. Then, after seeing a documentary on Antarctica and penguins, I had a bad dream. A little penguin got captured and was separated from his buddies. He was honking, honking, honking in his cage trying to get out. I woke up, wrote the story, and made a few sketches of Zeppi. Then I had to invent the locations for the stories. I drew a huge map with all the towns Zeppi discovers during his stay with Alesdor. The map was a help to invent the 24 tales.
Where are the books available for purchase?
Do you have a website where readers may learn more about you and Zeppi?
Yes, my website is www.omillinplanet.com and that’s also the blog where Zeppi publishes his green tips whenever he has time and isn’t gone somewhere on an adventure.
Why do you think most people love penguins?
There’s a mutual fascination between children and penguins. When I started drawing Zeppi, I made a visit to the zoo to observe and study the penguins’ postures and movements. I’d arrived early at the zoo to take pictures before the crowd arrived. But the penguins were sleeping and I just sat there drawing and hoping one of them would wake up and wobble around. A half hour later, I decided to leave when high pitched voices of a group of children woke up the penguins. The children glued their faces to the aquarium glass. And the magic happened! The penguins had their favorite audience. A few penguins jumped in the water showing off their swimming performances, making circles in the water, and jumping out again. Others waddled around ruffling their feathers. The more the children shouted the more the penguins showed off. The accompanying adults had as much fun as the children. I think penguins are so likeable.
That’s a cute story, Charlotte! It seems penguins love an audience. Is there anything else you’d like to share with my readers?
In fact, I would love your readers to share their thoughts on Zeppi and on his efforts to become an ecolo-friendly penguin. I’ll answer all e-mails sent to Zeppi’s site www.omillinplanet.com, or directly to my e-mail: [email protected]
Thank you, Mayra for your interest in Zeppi.
Thank you, Charlotte, and best of luck with the series. Sounds like a winner!
Note to readers: Do you have or know a child who loves penguins? Don’t forget to download free coloring pages of Zeppi at http://theadventuresofzeppi.wordpress.com/