“Jennifer O’Connell’s visit at the German International School, Washington, DC was for all of us, young and old, fascinating and truly enriching! Her vivid presentation of her latest picture book, the true story “Elephants Remember,” captivated the attention of all our students ranging from K-5 through 4 th grade. Students were enthralled as they listened to Jennifer’s personal story about the creativity, research and effort that enabled her to become such a successful illustrator and author. She encouraged each student to explore and develop their own talents. This moving true story drew the students into the world of the African elephant. Two of Jennifer’s painted props, a cardboard replica of an adult elephant ear and the stunning painting of a baby elephant, both life-size, made a lasting impression on the entire audience. Jennifer concluded each of her presentations with a colorful sketch of a scene out of her book accompanied by African music in the background. This was a fantastic, unforgettable presentation. Thank you, Jennifer for this unique learning experience.”
- Ursula Eberhard, Elementary School Library, German International School, Washington, DC

“All I can say is WOW! I am really in awe of how awesome you were and how engaged our students were throughout themorning! I have done many virtual visits throughout the last couple of years and today is at the top of my list as one of the best experiences! To do what you did for 45 minutes with k-5 students is simply amazing! Thank you thank you thank you!" Ryan Swanson, Reading Specialist, Hawthorne Elementary School, Sioux Falls, South Dakota

“Your presentation was the best Author visit I have ever seen." — Laura Steib, 5th Grade TeacherColumbia Elementary School, Annandale, VA

“I was really impressed with how Jennifer showed us how she created her nonfiction book. She also gave us so many ideas to use it across the curriculum. I was so excited that I purchased the book and am looking forward to using it with lessons." Elementary School Librarian attending presentation at the 2017 Fall Conference, Maryland Association of School Librarians (MASL)

“You know your author visit is a success when you have 600 students sitting quietly and hanging on every word the author says. Jennifer O’Connell captures students’ imaginations and draws them into the story as it unfolds. Her use of props, like a grapefruit to represent the size of a whale eyeball, and the photos of real people that later became pictures in her book kept the attention of all the students. They loved knowing that she was their age when she first started illustrating. They were able to make connections to how her book was laid out, with how they plan their writing. The awe on their faces when the life size baby whale was unfurled was priceless. Jennifer really connected with the students and they loved her. I highly recommend her to any school!” 
— Nicole O'Keefe, ELL Teacher, Buffalo Trail Elementary School, Aldie, VA

“Jennifer O'Connell's presentations to our students were magnificent! She was able to speak to each group at their level and keep their interest throughout the hour. Students sat up, incredulous, when they saw the size of a baby whale in Ms. O'Connell's mural! Then they sat back, calmed by the gentle music, as Ms. O'Connell painted a whale parade just for us! Her love for art, story-telling and children was apparent in every aspect of her visit, especially the extra care and time she put into making it special for our students.”
— Jennifer Stacey, NBCT, Library Media Specialist, Patrick Henry Elementary School, Arlington, VA

“... The children were mesmerized as they listened to Jennifer O'Connell talk about how she became interested in writing and illustrating. Mrs. O'Connell focused her discussion for us on the illustration process for the book, A Garden of Whales. Perhaps the highlight of the presentation was when she turned on the actual music that inspired her beautiful illustrations and demonstrated for the children how she used the music to set the mood for her artwork. It was quite moving to watch her draw the most beautiful life-like whales before our very eyes while listening to the same soothing music that she used for inspiration. The children, as well as the teachers, were captivated by her demonstration! She then went on to share the extraordinary factual account of a whale rescue with the children as an introduction to her latest book, The Eye of the Whale. Jennifer O’Connell’s unique and passionate presentation was an inspiration to us all! We are so thankful that she came to visit Primary Day."  — 2013, Mary Lisa Geppert, Former Head, The Primary Day School, Bethesda, MD

“You were marvelous at St. Luke’s -- the best author/illustrator I’ve seen.”
— Ellen Lewis, teacher, St. Luke’s Elementary School, VA

“...The children loved your presentation. ...You have a special gift with an audience.”
— Eleanor Fall, Librarian, Loudon Country Day School

“Thanks for bringing the baby blue whale. It was cool and big. I almost fainted. It was awesome.”
— Mark, student

"Thank you SO much for bringing normalcy to our lives! [A virtual presentation during Covid.] The kids really enjoyed it and so did I! ...They were so attentive!"
— Victoria Cunningham, Librarian, Loudoun Country Day School, Leesburg, VA

"The K-2 students at Highland School thoroughly enjoyed our recent session with author, Jennifer O’Connell. Her energy and enthusiasm sweep you away into her world of books and illustrating. She is an inspiration to budding talents and teachers alike." 
— Lise Hicklin, Lower School Director, Highland School, Warrenton, VA

“...The students loved you and are eagerly checking out your books!”
— Roslyn Beitler, Library Media Specialist, Kate Waller Barrett Elementary School, Arlington, VA

“I believe that I want to be an artist when I grow up, so I was greatly influenced by what you had to say. You taught us to never give up trying.”
— Sarah, student, Bradley Hills Elementary School, MD

“…You taught me something very important. You taught me how to draw in a funny way! I drew a camel with a surprised face. It was awesome.”
— Austin, 5th grade student, Laytonsville Elementary School, Gaithersburg, MD

“…All of your pictures in your books have texture that makes me feel like I am in the picture!" 
— Student, Farmland Elementary School, Rockville, MD

“…I liked how you played some music and drew whales. I really like to draw animals but I am not very good at it. But you inspired me to reach my goals."
— Student, Farmland Elementary School, Rockville, MD

“…I loved the story and the paintings were so amazing my mind blew up!"
— Student, Farmland Elementary School, Rockville, MD

"Jennifer captivated our 900+ 7th and 8th graders with two presentations about the process of writing her book, The Eye of the Whale. She gave students a window into her world as she described how she brought this amazing true rescue story to light for all ages. She spoke passionately and honestly about the journey from researching to writing (and re-writing). Teachers and students alike raved about Jennifer’s visit. She is knowledgeable, sincere, approachable and so very talented. I highly recommend her program."
 — Janice Killian, Reading Specialist, Herndon Middle School, Fairfax County, VA

"Ms. O’Connell brings great enthusiasm, passion, and knowledge to her presentations. When she visited my library, she captivated a multi-generational audience with her stunning artwork (including a life-size canvas of the whale’s tail!) and fascinating presentation about the creative process of writing and illustrating The Eye of the Whale. You can’t go wrong with Jennifer O’Connell-book her today, and get ready for an enlightening and enjoyable experience for all!" — Nicole Termini Germain, Branch Manager/Children's Librarian, San Francisco Public Library, Portola Branch, CA

"Your presentation was fabulous! Everyone is talking about Books in the Barn and your presentation. My mom even had two random people tell her that they had heard about Books in the Barn!" — Emilia Lawler, middle school student, Walkersville, MD

I want to write you an intensely heartfelt thank you. Please know that you made a huge impression on all of us. To me, your event is the dream learning experience.” — Janet Zwick, An Open Book Foundation, Washington, DC

“You were a huge hit at the preschool. Everyone especially loved your music and drawing. I've never heard a room full of preschoolers so quiet!” — Caroline Hickey, Chevy Chase - Bethesda Community Children’s Center, Washington, DC

"Jennifer O'Connell gave a wonderful program based on her new children's book, "The Eye of the Whale - A Rescue Story." Not only did Jennifer read the book to the youngsters, but she explained to them and their parents how she had reconstructed the rescuers' journey into the Pacific beyond the Golden Gate Bridge, and how she used photographs from that boat trip to inspire her fascinating painted illustrations for the book. An enormous painting of a humpback whale's tail provided an awesome backdrop to Jennifer's hour-long program. I highly recommend her program and, of course, the book." — Tim Troy, Children's Librarian, Children's Center, San Francisco Public Library, CA

“Mrs. O’Connell’s enthusiasm for the subject matter was notable at every turn of her intriguing presentation. Weaving her own childhood narrative and photos as a little girl together with her eventual career as an illustrator, captured the children’s attention right away. They listened attentively and at times, with mouths gaping wide. …Mrs. O’Connell managed to add fascinating new pieces of information to build on (the children’s) existing  body of knowledge. Just the model tooth of a sperm whale alone, the size of a medium size water bottle, elicited gasps of wonder.” 
— Ingrid Wrausmann, Elementary School English Chair, The German School of Washington, DC

"Jennifer O'Connell offers lively and informative programs for all ages. Enthusiastic and knowledgeable, she has excellent rapport with her audience. Children readily respond to her interactive program style. Those with aspirations to illustrate or write find her receptive and encouraging. Her inspirational programs highlight the wonders of the illustrated book for young and old alike."
— Joe Ann Stenstrom, Senior Librarian for Children's and Adult Services, Rockville Library, MD