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Otter and Odder

Otter and Odder

A Love Story

Illustrated by Chris Raschka


Otter and Odder

About the Book

When an otter falls in love with a fish, can he dare to follow his heart? A delicious ode to nonconformity from a stellar picture-book pair.

The day Otter found love, he wasn’t looking for it. He was looking for dinner. But then he gazed into the round, sweet, glistening eyes of Myrtle the fish, and he knew. "Impossible," he said. "I am in love with my food source." As for Myrtle, her first desire was: Please don’t eat me. But soon her heart awakened to a future she could never have imagined. The inseparable duo played hide-and-seek and told each other stories, but everyone said that was not the way of the otter. Could their love (and Myrtle) possibly survive? Aided by Chris Raschka’s illustrations in a fresh faux-naïf style, James Howe tells a warm, witty tale about finding kindred spirits in the oddest of places-and having the good sense to keep them.

Product Details

On sale: October 9, 2012
Age: 6-9 years
Grade: Grades 1-4
Page count: 40 Pages
ISBN: 9780763641740
Reading level: Lexile: AD650L | Fountas/Pinnell: O

Author Bio

James Howe is the acclaimed and beloved author of scores of books for young readers, including Brontorina, illustrated by Randy Cecil; the E. B. White Read Aloud Award–winning Houndsley and Catina and its sequels, illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay; and The Misfits, the book that inspired national No Name-Calling Week. James Howe lives in New York State.

Chris Raschka, winner of the 2012 Caldecott Medal for A Ball for Daisy, is the acclaimed illustrator of many books for children, including I Pledge Allegiance by Bill Martin Jr. and Michael Sampson; Dylan Thomas’s A Child’s Christmas in Wales; The Grasshopper’s Song by Nikki Giovanni; and A Poke in the I, A Kick in the Head, and A Foot in the Mouth, all edited by Paul B. Janeczko. Chris Raschka lives in New York City.


The love between a fish and an otter is given the thoughtful treatment such an unexpected attraction deserves... Howe explores the pleasure and pain of loving someone who is different from one’s self in a manner that is both sophisticated and accessible to children... Raschka’s childlike renderings of creatures in thick, penciled outlines create the innocence, mirror the hope and provide the universality that contributes to the title’s ascent above its purely message-driven counterparts. Ever-changing watercolor washes and primordial shapes depict a wondrous, liquid world in which the star-crossed lovers learn to trust their hearts.
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Howe’s story reaches beyond its target audience and presents a lovely, unpreachy allegory for relationships that fall outside the mainstream.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

An unusual, inspiring tale of star-crossed lovers and nonconformity.

Howe’s narrative incorporates humor, earnest emotion, and a likable protagonist to convey important truths about following one’s heart and looking beyond the expectations of others. The text is lyrical and rhythmically cadenced, unfurling gracefully like a blossoming flower to reveal its wisdom. Resplendent in sparkling sun-warmed hues, Raschka’s watercolor-and-pencil illustrations use stick-figure-style characters and unembellished shapes to strike the perfect balance of simplicity and eloquence. Like Leo Lionni’s wonder-filled fables, this tale entertains while it inspires.
—School Library Journal

This is a strong story of independence and choosing your own road in life.
—Library Media Connection

This strange and optimistic little fable is kin to Raschka’s Arlene Sardine (BCCB 9/98) and Willis’ Tadpole’s Promise (BCCB 7/05) in its cheerful, humorous weirdness, and the writing is prettily polished.
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Their love is so pure, I had tears in my eyes by the end. It's beautiful—a story, a lesson of love that every child needs.
—The Atlantic Wire

James Howe expertly crafts this modern fable to be read on many levels. Although adults may read more into the muddied relationship, even young children will recognize the strength of staying true to oneself. Otter’s reflective tale gives hope and validity to love everywhere.

Together, Howe and Raschka movingly explore the complexities of who and how we love, where love found and where it takes us.
—New York Times online