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|Otter and odder|
Author: Howe, James
When Otter falls in love with his food source, a fish named Myrtle, he must decide whether to follow the way of the otter or the way of his heart.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: LG
Reading Level: 3.70
Points: .5 Quiz: 154379
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: K-2
Reading Level: 2.70
Points: 2.0 Quiz: 59098
Common Core Standards
Grade 2 → Reading → RL Reading Literature → 2.RL Craft & Structure
Grade 3 → Reading → RF Foundational Skills → 3.RF Fluency
Grade 1 → Reading → RL Reading Literature → 1.RL Craft & Structure
Grade 1 → Reading → RL Reading Literature → 1.RL Integration of Knowledge & Ideas
Grade 1 → Reading → RL Reading Literature → 1.RL Range of Reading & Level of Text Complexity
Kirkus Reviews (+) (05/15/12)
School Library Journal (10/01/12)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (A) (01/13)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 07/01/2012 Otter is looking for dinner, but he finds love instead. No, not with a member of the same species but with his food source: a wide-eyed fish whom Otter calls Myrtle (sounds like gurgle). Of course, there’s all kinds of disapproving chatter (“It isn’t natural”) among the other river creatures, and Otter begins to rethink the romance. As happily-ever-after hangs in the balance, Otter must decide which is more important—being a normal fish-eating otter or following his heart. Howe’s text dips its toes into didactic waters and can feel messagey at times, but the book offers a springboard for discussions with children about bullies and societal pressures. Two-time Caldecott Medal–winner Raschka (The Hello, Goodbye Window, 2005; A Ball for Daisy, 2011) creates fresh watercolor-and-pencil illustrations that are deceptively simple; the wonderfully childlike drawings of flora and fauna resemble patterns made with crayon, and the creatures are simple oval shapes with circles for eyes and loops for arms and legs. An unusual, inspiring tale of star-crossed lovers and nonconformity. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Raschka has more followers than ever after his 2012 Caldecott win. Add Howe’s strong fan base, and you have plenty of anticipation for this collaborative effort. - Copyright 2012 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 10/01/2012 Gr 1–3—Swimming through a river in search of a meal, Otter comes face-to-face with a doe-eyed fish and finds love instead. The fish wants only to escape, but gazing into her captor's eyes, she sees "a tender and lonely heart revealed," and her own "tremulous/fish-not-wishing-to-be-dinner/heart" awakens to the possibility of affection. Alas, the course of true love never does run smooth, particularly when meandering through the links of the food chain, and the couple's idyllic happiness is short-lived. Tongues wag ("'It isn't right.'/'It isn't natural.'/'It isn't the way of the otter'"), causing him doubts, while his beloved wonders how she can love someone who feeds upon her family and friends. However, this romance is not destined to end in tragedy: inspired by Beaver's astute words ("…there is/the way of the otter/and there is/the way of the heart./It is up to you to decide which to follow"), Otter makes his choice-and a change in diet (apples and aspen bark can be very tasty)-paving the way for a happily-ever-after conclusion. Howe's narrative incorporates humor, earnest emotion, and a likable protagonist to convey important truths about following one's heart and looking beyond the expectations of others. The text is lyrical and rhythmically cadenced, unfurling gracefully like a blossoming flower to reveal its wisdom. Resplendent in sparkling sun-warmed hues, Raschka's watercolor-and-pencil illustrations use stick-figure-style characters and unembellished shapes to strike the perfect balance of simplicity and eloquence. Like Leo Lionni's wonder-filled fables, this tale entertains while it inspires.—Joy Fleishhacker, School Library Journal - Copyright 2012 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Bulletin for the Center... - 01/01/2013 Otter wasn’t looking for love, “he was looking for dinner,” but when a limpid-eyed fish arouses unexpected emotion, he realizes something unlikely has happened: “I am in love with my food source.” Myrtle (as Otter hears the fish’s name of Gurgle) has fallen for Otter as well, but despite their love the two can’t make it work: “I am no longer sure a fish can love an otter . . . when the way of the otter is to eat fish.” Fortunately, a wise beaver introduces Otter to vegetarianism, and the two “lived happily ever after.” This strange and optimistic little fable is kin to Raschka’s Arlene Sardine (BCCB 9/98) and Willis’ Tadpole’s Promise (BCCB 7/05) in its cheerful, humorous weirdness, and the writing is prettily polished. The logic doesn’t really bear examination (all the fish Otter ate previously are never mentioned, nor is the fact that fish also eat fish), though, and between the arch tone and the lack of high-impact payoff, it’s an airy and insubstantial outing. The watercolor and colored pencil art is highly graphic and gestural, with the figures stylized scribbles (the fish are the traditional skewed figure eights beloved by child artists) that blend in to the busily design-rich riverscapes. While the resultant spreads are beautiful in their interplay of river ripples and riparian vegetation, they’re also too abstract for engagement, further reducing the impact of the tale. Audiences may still appreciate the fractured fairy tale nature of the tale, however, and they might be persuaded to create their own humorous stories of surprising romance. DS - Copyright 2013 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.