Friday, February 12, 2021

New member of Team Blog: Debbie Ridpath Ohi

Only a week until the 2021 SCBWI Winter Conference begins! This is my first time as an official member of Team Blog; thanks to Lee Wind for the invite. For those of you who are used to attending SCBWI Annual Conferences in person in past years, you may be familiar with the long table at the back of the main ballrooms, lined with mysterious figures hunched over their laptops, typing with intensity and purpose. I confess that when I first saw the members of Team Blog in action, I figured that they were just extremely zealous writers who were so inspired by the keynote talks and breakout sessions that they were compelled to leap into their creative projects before the end of the conference. I could understand - I felt like doing the same thing!

Photo I took of the Team Blog table at 2019 SCBWI-LA

In 2019 at the SCBWI Summer Conference, I successfully infiltrated their ranks as a guest blogger to find out what they were really up to. What I discovered: WOW, they work incredibly hard! You can read Don Tate's blog post about his early Team Blog experience

I was honored to be invited to be a guest blogger for one post, and asked if I could cover my friend Suzanne Kaufman's session on the Craft Of Nonfiction Illustration. Here is my blog post from that conference. I also helped out a bit by boosting their posts on social media, via my iPad. I felt incredibly privileged, being allowed to sit at the Team Blog Table! Even more so, when Alexandra Penfold dropped off donuts for the Team (thanks, Alexandra!).

With Tracy Sorell at the 2019 SCBWI Summer Conference in LA

But I digress. I was given my first assignment: to introduce myself, and I've already veered off course. 

My name is Debbie Ridpath Ohi, and I write and illustrate children's books for a living. After many years of rejection, my career got jumpstarted in 2010 at the SCBWI Summer Conference in Los Angeles when I was chosen for the Illustrators' Mentorship Program along with Andrea Offermann, Eliza Wheeler, Kimberly Gee, John Deininger and Ashley Mims:

 I still remain good friends with some of my fellow Mentees, and have made many new Mentee friends since then; you can see posts by past/current Illustrator Mentees at I'm also going to be virtual roommates with Andrea Offermann and Eliza Wheeler during the SCBWI Winter conference. All three of us live in different countries (I'm in Canada, Andrea's in Germany, Eliza's in the U.S.), and we're all looking forward to getting inspired by and learning from the sessions next week. The faculty lineup and programming look amazing!

But I digress (again). At the same conference where I met Andrea and Eliza, I won an Honor Award in the overall Portfolio Showcase. One of the judges was Justin Chanda, publisher and editor at Simon & Schuster Children's. Justin asked if I'd be interested in illustrating I'm Bored, a new picture book written by Michael Ian Black

I said YES, of course.

Since then, I've written and/or illustrated many stories for young people, and my art appears in books by Judy Blume, Michael Ian Black, Linda Sue Park, Aaron Reynolds, Rob Sanders, and others. My next book is I'm Sorry, the fourth book in the series by me and Michael Ian Black, and comes out from Simon & Schuster on Aug. 31, 2021.

You can find out more about me and my work at, on Twitter at @inkyelbows, Instagram at @inkygirl and Facebook at @debbieohi. See you at the SCBWI Winter Conference!


  1. Debbie! So fun to relive this! And Suzanne’s non-fiction session was so inspiring. Thanks for all you do!

  2. Welcome, Debbie! So glad you're joining us!!!

    1. Thank you for inviting me to be a part of Team Blog this year, Lee!

  3. Hi Debbie! I love hearing your story. You are a true inspiration! Looking forward to the conference and all the blogs! :)