Zardoz Press is an imprint of Life Force Books and offers a series of multicultural children's books, featuring the Luna family. The series is an idea of writer Véronique Semple and her husband, author/publisher JJ Semple. Our first title, Halloween Ooga-Ooga-Ooum has received the prestigious Pinnacle Book Achievement Award (Winter 2012).
When author Véronique Semple moved to the United States, Halloween was mystery to her. What exactly did this holiday celebrate? The usual explanations failed. Unlike most French holidays, Halloween wasn't a religious holiday. She couldn't find a true French equivalent.
After several years of sending her children out to trick-and-treat on Halloween night, she began to see similarities with customs from her native Cameroon. This prompted her to write down some ideas in French for a Halloween story — the origin of Halloween Ooga-Ooga-Ooum. When she showed it to her husband, writer JJ Semple, he was impressed with the narrative and immediately started translating the story, fleshing it out to a full-length picture book for children. Although the phrase Ooga-Ooga-Ooum reminded JJ Semple of Alfred Hitchcock's famous notion — the MacGuffin, Véronique claims it came to her spontaneouly, a childhood memory of an African ghost story. Forged in the experience of three cultures (African, French, American), Halloween Ooga-Ooga-Ooum is a truly multicultural series.
Once the text was finalized, the next challenge was getting the story to come alive in pictures. JJ Semple saw Suzette Turner’s paintings at the Lotus Cafe in Arcata, California. He was struck by the imaginative quality of her artwork and they started to collaborate immediately, experimenting with paper types and media and storyboarding, finally deciding that high-resolution scanned watercolors would be the best medium for bringing the story to life.
This series uses a tell-it-like-it-is alternative to politically correct children's literature so prevalent today. Kids are more aware of social issues today. Not because they watch reality TV; the harshness of life is the only reality they need. Yes, kids should have a childhood free from fear and violence; we're not proposing anything else. But it's important to provide literature that provides a reflection of the issues all children face.
Halloween Ooga-Ooga-Ooum is the kind of reading material you can use not only for amusement, but also for family discussions.