Otto the Owl Who Loved Poetry

illus. by Vern Kousky. 32p. Penguin/Nancy Paulsen Bks. Feb. 2015. RTE $16.99. ISBN 9780399164408. LC 2014012282.
K-Gr 3—Otto loves to read books: specifically, he adores poetry. He is ridiculed by the other owls of the forest but finds a friend in an unlikely character, a mouse. Eventually the owls come to appreciate his recitations and begin to share poems as well. This book weaves in snippets of verse from such greats as T.S. Eliot, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Christina Rossetti. Unfortunately, the concept for this story is much more engaging than the actual execution. The text seems to jump from one topic to the next, and the message feels forced and awkward. Suggest Paul B. Janeczko's Firefly July: A Year of Very Short Poems (Candlewick, 2014) for a stronger introduction to the wonders of nature and the voices of profound poets. The mixed-media artwork uses inviting tones of blue, black, and brown, but the cartoonish owl and mice seem misplaced when set against the beatutiful sky and tree backgrounds.—Andy Plemmons, David C. Barrow Elementary, Athens, GA
"I'm nobody! Whooo are you?" Rather than hang out in a tree, owl Otto recites poetry, which inspires taunts ("Here comes Blotto the Bard!"). After Otto runs away, he makes unlikely friends--and fans. It all resolves too easily, but the starlit forest is a fantastic setting for the recitation of snippets by Dickinson, Eliot, and Kousky (this book's author).

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