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The Mad Potter: George E. Ohr, Eccentric Genius

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  276 ratings  ·  98 reviews
When George Ohr's trove of pottery was discovered in 1967, years after his death, his true genius was discovered with it. The world could finally see how unique this artist really was!

Born in 1856 in Biloxi, Mississippi, George grew up to the sounds of the civil war and political unrest.When he was 22, his boyhood friend introduced him to the pottery wheel. The lost young
Hardcover, 56 pages
Published October 29th 2013 by Roaring Brook Press (first published October 1st 2013)
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Once Upon a Road Trip by Angela N. BlountThe First Pillar by Roy HuffImprisoned by Martin W. SandlerThe Nazi Hunters by Neal BascombThe Mad Potter by Jan Greenberg
Young Adult Nonfiction 2013
5th out of 16 books — 11 voters
The Boy Who Loved Math by Deborah HeiligmanOn a Beam of Light by Jennifer  BerneA Splash of Red by Jennifer Fisher BryantLocomotive by Brian FlocaWho Says Women Can't Be Doctors? by Tanya Lee Stone
Childrens NonFiction 2013
117th out of 118 books — 33 voters

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Community Reviews

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Feb 19, 2014 Joan rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: students needing bios or budding artists
This is a biography of another artist I never heard of. That seems to be a theme of this year's award winners and honors. What makes this book are the photographs of Ohr's pottery. His pottery is art, not really useful stuff, or only incidentally useful. He never really made any money from the artwork but did manage a living from his more mundane creations. He told his children not to try to sell the artwork for at least 50 + years which was a pretty good estimation of when his art would start t ...more
Stephanie Tournas
I had never heard of George Ohr, but that did not stop me from thoroughly enjoying this picture book biography of him. He was an "eccentric genius" potter from Biloxi, Mississippi, whose art was years ahead of his time. Eccentric in art, business and behavior, he never quite fit in to his generation at the turn of the 20th century. But, after crates of his pots, urns, pitchers and teapots were discovered in 1968, his work started to sell for prices that would have shocked even him.

Using archival
Kathryn Moody
The photographs of Ohr's pottery were beautiful and unusual. The photographs of Ohr and his workshop and family were also very interesting. I was not thrilled with the writing and found the biographical narrative difficult to become involved and engaged with. Though I love stories of unusual characters, especially those unappreciated by their time or place, I did not feel compelled to this particular story. It was, however, very informative. Perhaps it would be more interesting to those who alre ...more
Natalie Payton
The Mad Potter: George E. Ohr, Eccentric Genius by Jan Greenberg is a nonfiction book about George Ohr and the discovery of his pottery after his death. George Ohr was born in the mid-1800s and grew up during the civil war. He was introduced to pottery and found his calling. He created pots, vases, and sculptures that expressed his eccentricity and unique personality. He took his collection to art shows, museums, and fairs but no one accepted his pieces. Since no one accepted hi
Brooke Snyder
Summary: George Ohr was a very creative man who fell in love with pottery. His pottery was different than most and quite unique. He took is pottery to art shows, but nobody bought his art work because they thought it was odd. George hid his pottery all over, hoping it would be discovered one day and it was! His pottery was discovered after his death. Today, we see how creative George really was.

Personal Response/Critical Response: I’m not a big fan of this book. I don’t think children will be en
Question 1: Remembering
Can you tell me three things about George E. Ohr's childhood that is very different than you own?
1. His father was a blacksmith.
We can talk shortly about what a blacksmith is.
2. He only went to school until he was 13, and was working after that.
3. He lived during the Civil War.
I can point out also that the Civil War was fought on American soil, much different from modern wars.

Question 2: Understanding
How would you characterize Joseph Meyer in George Ohr's life?
1. Joseph wa
Freya Hooper
What this book is about:
George Ohr was eccentric, arrogant and brazen. He was a potter who crafted pots whose artistic merits were not recognized at the time, but who still became a Biloxi tourist attraction for his flamboyant style. Both he and his pots were “out there.” George sported a ridiculously long handlebar mustache which he wrapped around his ears. His pots were free form expressions, and no two are alike. While he wasn’t considered an artist by others at the time, despite his self pr
Read this aloud to my fifth grade daughter and we both enjoyed it thoroughly. I don’t usually review biographies, but this title is a Sibert Honor Book this year and I was curious. The authors tell the story of the life of George Ohr (born in 1857) – who was definitely eccentric. He wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with his life and he didn’t fit into the mainstream society. Then discovered a passion for pottery. What’s beautiful is how the authors detail Ohr’s sustained focus on developing his ...more
George Ohr may well have been a genius as a potter, but I don't think I would have liked the man. He carried his eccentricities and egoism to an extreme, probably to try to sell his pottery to people wanting to see the Mad Potter of Biloxi. I came away with the impression that his antics worked to the detriment of his wife and family in many cases. On the other hand, Ohr had a control over his medium and an inspiration that foresaw much of the modern movement in pottery. He was indeed a man befo ...more
Six levels of Bloom's Taxonomy Questions:


When (what grade) did George Ohr stop going to school?


Describe what is meant by Ohr being called the “Mad Potter”?


Think of a situation in the story, and tell me what you would have done? (i.e. Ohr moving back home with $26.80 in his pocket to start his own pottery business, or how he handled his house and workplace burning to the ground)


Distinguish between George Ohr’s early works of pottery and his later works of
Maria Burnham
I read this book because I have been following the books that my local Chapter and Verse book club are discussing. For the month of February, we were set to discuss our favorite award winning books. In attempt to branch out from what I normally read, I picked up and started to read all of the award winning elementary level books.
This book, in particular, stood out to me as an interesting non-fiction read. I've always been a person who loves art (even though I'm not very good as an artist). I en
Jim Erekson
Alternating between primary source photos and art photos of Ohr's pottery made this an engaging visual experience. The story of the crazy artist being ahead of his time is typical, but still fun to read. And this version put an American twist on it (not the Van Gogh-ish European story we're so used to).

If you ask me, Ohr's biggest marketing mistake was putting too much stuff on display--the display was the spectacle people came to see, and when they had seen it they felt no need to buy anything
This tells the life story of George E. Ohr who built on a reputation as the "Mad Potter" to make a tourist attraction out of himself. His work was disregarded in his time and was rediscovered in the 70's for the art that it is. This fast paced biography takes the reader through Ohr's life from the time he was a young boy to his death as an old man. Ohr was interesting and his work is so beautiful that the book does not have to reach very hard to put together something engaging. This book can be ...more
Bethley Giles
Clark, G., Ellison, R. A., Hecht, E., & White, J. (1989). The mad potter of Biloxi: The art & life of George E. Ohr. New York: Abbeville Press.

2013 School Library Journal Best Books Nonfiction; Sibert Award

Informational Book

This non-fiction book details the life and works of George E. Ohr, a potter who many have never heard of. The pictures are what make this book interesting, and included personal pictures as well as beautiful pictures of his pottery. The book also includes "sensory wo
Kelly Tromburg Frisk
Photographic endpapers begin the journey inside the life of the eccentric potter from post Civil War times. His Pot-Ohr-E was located in Biloxi, Mississippi and stuffed with a few practical items, but mostly art pottery of varying styles with ruffles, flutes, puzzles, and unique glazing. He had apprenticed, but was mostly self-taught and full of pride. His values mirrored the Arts and Crafts movement of the time. His pottery did not sell well until much after his death. Photographs of himself an ...more
One Sentence Review: More fun than you'd expect (though the mustache on the cover almost gives it away) this bio of an obscure but ahead-of-his-time potter is admittedly not the usual children's fare, yet almost because of that fact it ends up being one of the best nonfiction works out there for the 9-12 year-old set.
George E Ohr was a 19th century American potter. He was largely unknown until years after his death, in 1967, a treasure trove of his work was discovered. “The Mad Potter” is a chapter book, picture book, biography.

This picture book non-fiction is a wonderful account of his life and work. Through photographs of George and photos of his pottery, this book showcases his genius. The authors present this fascinating biography of Geroge Ohr through colorful photos of the art, coupled with vintage sep
I was drawn to this book because of George Ohr’s wild and funny-looking mustache pictured on the front cover is one that grabbed my attention and the title The Mad Potter. Who was George Ohr? The book claims he was “The original do-it-yourselfer”. Ohr was an independent and imaginative American ceramic artist. Looking at his pieces, it is fun to think of what may or may not have inspired many of them. I wish I had one of his crazy and beautiful pots. I enjoyed reading about the time period that ...more
IndyPL Kids Book Blog
George E. Ohr was a potter from Biloxi Mississippi. He’s been dead for a long time – he was a little boy during the U.S.Civil War. Even so, when you read about him, it seems like you could just walk into his studio and start making stuff out of clay with him. He doesn’t seem old-fashioned or distant. He seems like a friend. He called his pots his “mud babies”. As you can see by his picture on the cover of this book – George was one-of-a-kind. There is another picture of him in this book with his ...more
Brief, well written introduction to George Ohr, a late 19th- early 20th century potter. Greenberg writes about his skill, possible genius, and eccentricities in a way that will keep youngsters reading. Art is in the eye of the beholder and while George knew what he made was art, the general or ever artsy population didn't recognize it until the late 1960s. Greenberg makes clear the financial and artistic struggles faced by Ohr, but she also makes clear he was generally happy with himself, his wo ...more
Syndi Flores
Compared to other books, this has a bit more text and more information to gather. This story has chapters that helps to break down the story about George E. Ohr. As well as the text tells the reader the facts, the images in the story also help to tell what is going on. Also, the images in this story are real pictures, not drawn. Most of the pictures are about some of his work and some are about places each helps the story move along. This book is longer and might be more appropriate for older ch ...more
Genre and age: Information, Non-fiction; grades 5+

Summary: This informational book tells the story of George Ohr, who found his niche in pottery making, and was ahead of his time in his artistic style.

Curriculum: I think this book would be a great resource in an art class to get some inspiration if students have the opportunity to work with clay.

Reaction: I enjoyed reading about the wild, confident, daring, and enthusiastic George; his story is inspirational for anyone trying to find his or her
Received a Sibert Honor this year (award given for informational children's books). I had never heard of George Ohr before, but he definitely had talent. He was a talented potter, but really wasn't discovered or honored until after his death (that seems to be common for many artists). I enjoyed the photographs of him, his family, and his pottery as well as the information about his life. (I do think his names for his children were a bit too odd...making each of their names so that their initials ...more
This was a fun and interesting book to learn about the artist-ahead-of-his-time, George E. Ohr. One of those artists whose art is not appreciated in the time of its making (1881-1910), he boxed it all up in 1910 and instructed his children not to sell it for 50 years. He was a true eccentric with a big personality and sense of humor, which came out in his art and other areas of his life -- naming many of his children with first names that represented their initials, such as Clo Lucinda Ohr. I en ...more
Filled with period photographs of the man and his times as well as shots of the unique pottery he created, this book focuses on George Ohr, a Biloxi potter known for his self-promotion and eccentricity. The pottery itself is lovely, original, and in many cases, covered in stunningly lovely glazes. The man himself is quite intriguing too since his artwork brought him little attention during his lifetime--he lived from 1857 until 1918--but years after his death, it was discovered among boxes of fa ...more
Brady Stevens
Dec 09, 2014 Brady Stevens added it
Shelves: 307
This was probably one of favorite books if not my favorite. I am really into pottery and seeing all the abstract and irregular designs of his creations is really engaging. The books is about George E. Ohr, he was an unusual man himself along with his pottery. The pictures show all the features that each individual piece had and I really love it cause it acts as a guideline where I can pick up ideas for my own creations that I throw.
Greenberg, J., & Jordan, S. (n.d.). The mad potter: George
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
As a middle school librarian I'm on the search for picture books but those that I can use with students in grades 6 - 8. I'm looking for those that exemplify or deepen the message of my or my colleague's curriculum.

This book is a longer picture book, nearly a chapter book. This would be a great one for a reluctant reader who needs a nonfiction book. Or a great book for the art teacher to share. Also great to show how to follow your passion.

This will be added to my MS library collection.
The Mad Potter: George E. Ohr Eccentric Genius (A Neal Porter Book, Roaring Book Press, October 29, 2013) written by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan provides a narrative of a most unusual life. If you think of the historical time period in which Ohr lived (1857-1918), the reaction of people to his unconventional artistic endeavors makes sense. The real discoveries though, to be gleaned from this biography, are much more.

My full review:
Since this biography won the Sibert Honor medal at the 2014 Youth Media Awards, and it was the only one I hadn't read in that category, I remedied that as soon as I could! George E. Ohr was indeed an eccentric genius. I love how he held on to his imaginative artistic ideals even in the face of the Industrial Revolution. The photographs throughout of him and his handlebar mustache and his beautiful pottery are wonderful. This is an excellent addition to a classroom library. I'm also going to lend ...more
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