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Sunday, July 27, 2014

I AM OTTER, written and illustrated by Sam Garton. Balzer & Bray, Harper. 2014. $21.00 ages 4 and up

"But then every Monday we get bad news: Otter Keeper will be going to work. I do all sorts of things to prevent Otter Keeper from leaving, like trying to stop Monday from happening altogether, or hiding his lunch where he'll never find it. But my plans never work. Teddy and I think it's very unfair that we don't have jobs."

Funny how one thing leads to another! Prior to reading and savoring this joyous tale of good intentions gone bad, I had never heard of the very entertaining blog of the same name. Now, I know both and am, as always, thankful for the paths that reading takes me down. You won't be sorry if you take the time to check it the blog out for yourself:

Now, to the book! It's bright and happy and oh, so funny!

Otter's life is pretty darn good. A box on the front step marks the beginning for Otter and Otter Keeper, who finds the box, brings it inside and sets about making Otter feel comfortable and safe. It takes time and effort. Oh, and Teddy helps. Teddy is a stuffed bear who makes life more 'bear'able for both Otter and his new human friend.

The only glitch in the happiness shared comes with Monday mornings. Can you relate? That is the day when, no matter how many obstacles are put in his way, Otter Keeper must return to work after a companionable weekend of full-out fun!

Disgruntled at the weekly disruption, Otter decides that he wants a job, and one for Teddy, too. A toast restaurant seems a suitable enterprise. With a modicum of training, they are on their way to full-time employment. Oh, boy! Things do not go well from the start; soon, they have themselves in a frightful mess. OOPS! Otter Keeper is due home, and clean up takes top priority. How does one explain the mess? Where has Teddy gone?

Keen listeners will 'get' all the nuances of friendship with a stuffed bear, and will delight in the many details created by Sam Garton in digital illustrations that pop with bright color and fun, fun, fun. It is a perfect blend of text and art, allowing imaginations to run free. Any parent of little children, who love to drag out every toy, blanket, and piece of clothing they can find to create needed spaces, will understand and appreciate the double page spread that is the chaos created in Otter's attempt to be a fully functioning 'worker'.

Kudos to Sam Garton for creating a charming and happy story that is sure to garner new fans; hopefully, it holds promise for another meeting with these wonderful characters.

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