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Friday, January 25, 2019

Otto and Pio, by Marianne Dubuc. Princeton Architectural Press, Raincoast. 2019. $24.95 ages 5 and up

"Otto went around to his neighbors and told them the story of the spiny, green ball ... and the little thing that goes "Pio," whose mother absolutely needed to be found. Otto didn't know how to take care of a tiny creature. But no one had seen the green ball, or the mother of the green ball, or anything that looked like the small, furry thing inside the green ball.  "Mommy!" cried the creature upon Otto's return."

Is this another case of mistaken identity?

It isn't often that an odd-looking green ball shows up on your doorstep ... especially if you are a squirrel living in a big, and very old, tree. So, when Otto notices that spiky ball one morning, he ignores it. Off he goes to complete his daily errands. Upon his return, the ball is still there. Otto seems oblivious to its presence.

It is only when he hears a noise, checks the branch and sees that the ball is hatching a small, round, furry being that he begins to pay attention. When the creature calls him mommy, he is quick to discount that premise. Wary that the mother might return, Otto goes back inside. Nothing happens. The creature remains long into the evening. Otto is gracious and hospitable, and invites the creature in for the night.

"Good night!" said Otto, turning off the light.
"Mommy!" replied the little creature from under the warm blanket.
"No! I am not your mommy. My name is Otto.
"Alright, Pio will do for now."

As days pass, and Pio grows more and more immense, their living space becomes very crowded. It is a problem. The events that follow will delight and gain wide approval from young readers. Finally, when Otto is threatened with grave danger, Pio proves his worth as friend and companion.

If you follow this blog, you will know that I have great admiration for Marianne Dubuc and her wonderful books. In this quiet story about friendship and kindness, she just makes me love her work even more. Her detailed, carefully colored spreads bring a sense of peace and contentment as children listen to this tale that meanders slowly to a warm, and pleasing conclusion. 

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