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This summer, meet the Triangle’s very own anthropomorphic adventuring duo, a girl named Olive and her stuffed owl, Hoot, from Wake Forest-based illustrator and author Jonathan Voss.
In his children’s book “Brave Enough for Two,” Voss follows the pair on a perilous adventure by foot, boat and hot air balloon. Hoot and Olive stick together, and, through friendship and bravery, return home again safely and all in one piece (for the most part).
Voss leaves it to readers to decide if the story—accompanied by watercolor and pen and ink illustrations, evocative of Beatrix Potter and E.H. Shepard—takes place by magic or in Olive’s imagination.
“There’s a naive quality to Hoot but I wanted him to know things that Olive didn’t know,” Voss says of his characters. “I’m a little bit of an old soul and wanted them to have a classic feel, with names that could be from now or a long time ago. I wanted them to be timeless.”
Though Olive isn’t based on her directly, she resembles Voss’s own young daughter, Lily.
“It wasn’t intentional but when you live with people, they tend to come out in what you do,” Voss says. “The characters are on a journey, you want them to change, so it’s really about who Olive is now, and who she’ll be at the end.”
A portrait artist and graphic designer, Voss’s first venture into children’s literature began with illustrations for author Sally Walker’s 2015 book “Winnie,” about the real life bear that inspired Winnie the Pooh. Voss has two more children’s books in the works; one, to be released next year, will follow Hoot and Olive on another adventure.
“Brave Enough for Two” was selected for the Summer 2018 Kid’s Indie Next List, a national honor from independent bookstores, as well as the Macmillan School & Library staff pick for Spring 2018. Voss kicks off a week-long tour at Quail Ridge Books on Monday, June 11.
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