cover image The Mad Potter: George E. Ohr, Eccentric Genius

The Mad Potter: George E. Ohr, Eccentric Genius

Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan. Roaring Brook/Porter, $17.99 (56p) ISBN 978-1-59643-810-1

Any man who names his children Leo, Clo, Lio, Oto, Flo, Zio, Ojo, and Geo is a man worth a second look. Born just before the Civil War, George E. Ohr brought his quirky sense of humor to his pottery workshop in Biloxi, Miss., and to everything he touched. He couldn’t sell his eccentrically shaped, brilliantly glazed “art pottery,” so he made himself a tourist attraction, selling piggy banks, puzzle mugs, and clay models of ladies’ shoes. In spite of his shameless self-promotion (“Greatest Art Potter on Earth. You prove the contrary”), no serious attention was given to his work until 50 years after his death, when an antiques dealer found his pots and they brought fantastic sums at auction. Greenberg and Jordan (Ballet for Martha) don’t mention what drew them to Ohr’s work, but their detailed biography is supported by a rich trove of sepia photographs and color reproductions of the pots. Whether the book spurs readers’ interest in ceramics, it will certainly prod them to ask themselves if they’re really living life to the fullest. Ages 7–12. Agent: George Nicholson, Sterling Lord Literistic. (Oct.)