Otto: A Palindrama

Dial. Sept. 2021. 144p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780803741621; pap. $10.99. ISBN 9780147513496.
Gr 2-5–An epic adventure begins in Otto’s kitchen when his family settles in for dinner, speaking only in palindromes (“Mmm,” “Spoon it in—oops!”), a conceit that continues throughout. As Otto, a young white boy, gazes into his bowl, viewers suddenly see him and his family vacationing on a beach. While his parents bask in the sun, Otto finds himself on a quest as he searches for his lost dog, Pip: He treks through a desert, catches a ride into the city, visits a museum and a cemetery, and is caught in a storm at sea. Moving through various landscapes and offering endless details, Agee’s graphic novel is a feast for the eyes. There are 200 palindromes in the book, and it’s clear why Agee is considered an expert on the subject. When Otto enters the museum, visitors exclaim, “Gustav Klimt milk vats? Ug!” Palindromes can be found on billboards, license plates, and tombstone epigraphs as Agee creates a sophisticated brand of wit and clever wordplay that will appeal to young humorists. Relying on muted tones, the artwork is rendered in Agee’s distinct comic style, with nods to artists like Charles M. Schulz and Jeff Koons.
VERDICT Readers will be entranced by this dreamlike graphic novel that boasts a substantial collection of palindromes and an engaging visual narrative.

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