Book Review: Otto Grows Down by Michael Sussman
A Review in Reverse
Engaging and entertaining, Otto Grows Down is hard to deny.
The artwork doesnâ€™t take itself too seriously, and is a worthy match for a story that does the same. Similar to the recent The Very Hungry Dinosaur, Scott Magoonâ€™s (Rabbit & Squirrel: A Tale of War & Peas) illustrations exude a deceptively simple, childlike quality.
Plot-driven and genuinely funny (there is a bathroom scene that had me absolutely disgusted, yet laughing out loud just the same), youngsters will be drawn in from page one. This titleâ€™s usefulness in a read-aloud setting is clear.
Will Otto be able to set things straight before he ceases to exist? But it doesnâ€™t work. His birthday wish is for things to go back to normal. When his 5th birthday arrives, Otto has had enough. But time keeps going backward. Immediately, time and events start moving in reverse â€“ un-blowing out the candles, walking backwards â€“ and it isnâ€™t long before Anna is out of the picture. Amazingly, he gets his way. Upstaged at his own b-day bash, Otto blows out his candles wishing that little sis were never born. One week before Ottoâ€™s 6th birthday, his little sister Anna steals his thunder by being born. The story begins with an easily relatable set-up.
A solidly above average release that is sure to be a read-aloud success. Funny, clever, and sporting a subtle moral that doesnâ€™t thwack young readers on the head. Otto Grows Down takes this theme, adds a bit of time-in-reverse craziness, and comes out a winner. Excitement, anticipation, and the ever-so-familiar resentment are a few of the mixed feelings that spring from such an event. Plenty of kids have a hard time adjusting to a new sibling.
Review copy provided by the publisher.
Find this book at your local library with WorldCat.
About Travis Jonker
Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at email@example.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.
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