Children’s Author Joseph W. Orobona
Author Joseph Orobona, a resident of Clayton, NY, recently visited us at The Reading Room bookstore. Joe is a former school superintendent from Long Island. He waited until retirement to begin publishing children’s books. So far, he has five titles in print: Bear in the Basket and Bear in the Bathtub, both charmingly illustrated by Kathy Sturr, both chronicle the misadventures of Little Bear, a curious and mischievous black bear cub with a weakness for blueberries. Tornado Tom and his Terrific Trike (with illustrations by Paul A. Demmers, Sr.), is a whimsical tale of a boy named Tommy whose ability to ride his trike at whiplash speed conjures up meteorological chaos in his home. Every child can relate to the self-explanatory I Want a Pet. Can Benny convince his grandmother to say “yes”? Will the local zookeeper help change her mind? Finally, there is Joe’s latest publication, The Naughty Little Mouse. It follows the misadventures of a destructive little rodent who wreaks havoc in a household, while cleverly evading the family cat. The books are enjoyable for parents, as well as kids! Here is my chat with Joseph Orobona…
You’re originally from West Islip, Long Island. What brought you up north to Clayton?
My wife and I met at Potsdam State (University) She was an upstate girl from Massena. I promised her that when I finished my career on Long Island, that we would move up to where her Mom and Dad were. Thank God we still have our parents!
How long have you lived in the North Country?
Just about 15 years now.
Your biography says that you have four children and nine grandchildren. But it was only in the last few years that you started publishing books. Did you make up stories for your kids when they were growing up?
Yes. I’d have them on my knee and I’d either to read them, or tell them stories that I made up.
What took you so long to finally put pen to paper and publish your stories?
Well, I have a double degree, one in biology and one in English. I always wanted to be an author. But, I couldn’t really feed my family too well that way. So I just waited until I retired.
Little Bear is a sweet character. Do you like to go camping? And have you ever had a bear encounter?
Yes. We’ve camped all over the United States with our children. And I mean intense camping, in some of the big, big parks. We have encountered bears. We had one really interesting experience in Yellowstone, where we found a bear on a trail. We stayed in the car, but some silly people didn’t. It was interesting to see how people interact with the animals.
And your illustrator is from Clayton as well, right?
Her name is Kathy Sturr. She’s a local artist. She does beautiful work. It’s funny… when I was sending the book out originally to publishers, one of them wrote back to me: “I really like the illustrations!” But he didn’t say anything about my story!
Do you plan on releasing anymore bear books?
As many as you want! The next one is Bear in the Barrel. Then I have Bear in the Branches, and two more titles. There’s six in the series, but I’m thinking about another couple. I’ve got storylines ready for them.
In your Tornado Tom book, you not only tell an entertaining story, but you encourage young readers to do research on old tricycles and their history. Is that another hobby of yours?
Yes. It’s kind of funny. In the back of the book, at the very end, is a picture of myself with some of my friends when I was about five or six years old. And we’re all on tricycles. It’s something I grew up with as a kid, and something I remember fondly.
Are you a collector?
No. But we have a whole collection in the basement for our grandkids!
Joseph Orobona’s books are available in the Reading Room bookstore in Salmon Run Mall. If you’re not local, they are also for sale on Amazon!
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