Otto the Book Bear written and illustrated by Kate Cleminson is a new story that feels old. It is simple and sweet while being moving and memorable at the same time. Or, as the Publisher's Weekly review says much better, "Cleminson is one of the latest in a long line of British storytellers who excel at being brisk and businesslike on the outside and deeply empathic on the inside." I couldn't agree more. Cleminson's illustrations, which are completely charming, could fit this description as well. Her ink sketches on mostly white pages tell the story briskly while her washes of color, sometimes pale, sometimes bright, bring feeling and meaning to the tale.
Otto lives inside a book and is happiest when his story is being read, but he also enjoys the times when he is not being read and he can climb out of his book and wander around and explore the home where his book is shelved.
Otto even likes to write his own stories sometimes.
Then, one day, Otto watches as a van filled with boxes drives away. Tucked under the shelf, his book has been left behind. Lonely in the empty house, Otto decides to head out into the world to find a new home. Although he is adorable and pocket-sized when he leaves his book, the world outside proves be a dangerous and bewildering place. Weary with his adventure, Otto sees a building that looks like a "place that looked full of light and hope."
It is the public library and Otto quickly finds that it is full of new friends and adventures, as well as children who will read his story.
Like I said, short and sweet, but with so much going on! I am sure that a reading of this story will encourage your kids to look at their books and the library in a new way.
Kate Cleminson is also the author and illustrator of Cuddle Up, Goodnight and Magic Box, which was a treat to read at story time when it came out in 2009.