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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

When Otis Courted Mama, written by Kathi Appelt and illustrated by Jill McElmurry. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Thomas Allen and Son. 2015. $21.99 ages 5 and up

"Best of all, when his
perfectly good daddy
howled, the stars
shimmered and the moon
beamed. Cardell felt
loved through and through.
The only problem was that
Cardell's perfectly good
daddy lived in a different
part of the desert."

Cardell is a perfectly happy young coyote, despite the fact that his daddy lives so far away with another family. He has the attention of both loving parents and thus, he loves the life that he lives. We learn quickly that Cardell's daddy makes wonderful pancakes, plays exciting games and howls with the best of them. Staying with him only part of the time affords the young coyote the opportunity to spend the rest of his days with his mama. The two are content with their life. From his mama Cardell learns that being a good scout means a full tummy at the end of each day. He learns to paint, just like his mama and to appreciate all that nature has to offer.

"Yep, apart from a few sticker burs and occasional sand fleas, Cardell's life was mostly wonderful."

Everything changes when a new neighbor moves in and dares to show up at their door with gifts for Mama. Cardell is not impressed; Mama most certainly seems to be. There had been other coyotes courting his mama. None had the appeal that Otis has. Otis is unlike any other suitors, or Cardell's daddy. Cardell is unwelcoming. Otis is patient.

"Then one evening Otis told Cardell and Mama the funniest stories,
stories about horned toads and chaparrals and little coyotes with big
GRRRs ... Cardell couldn't help it. He howled with laughter. Those stories
settled on Cardell's fur like a warm blanket."

Now, Cardell's life is even better than he ever thought it could be!

A reassuring tale complemented by gouache paintings that depict the desert life of the Southwest, this is a terrific book to share at story time.

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