Thursday, April 2, 2009

Otto Grows Down - Review and Book Giveaway



"Otto's wish had come true. No more rattle-swiping, birthday-wrecking baby sister. There was only one small problem ... Time kept going backwards! Otto was growing down." - Otto Grows Down by Michael Sussman

The birthday. The candles and cake. The WISH! Otto, on his sixth birthday, feels rather neglected. You see, one week earlier, he became a big brother. No longer the center of attention, Otto takes his birthday wish to heart and wishes his baby sister Anna was never born. In theory, you'd think a wish like that would set things like they were before. Not quite so, as Otto quickly learns. The wish makes time go backwards. Yes, Otto's parents take his sister back to the hospital. But backwards time doesn't stop there. Time continues to go in reverse. Otto, to his dismay, grows younger, smaller and more frantic as each former birthday passes and he desperately tries to set things right.

Some picture books are pure fluff. This book is not and that is a good thing. Otto Grows Down, the fascinating and funny children's book by Michael Sussman stretches the imagination. I can guarantee Sussman's book will make children think, particularly about jealousy and also the concept of time. Most kids with siblings will at some point develop feelings of resentment. Using humor, the book provides a good starting point for discussions with children about sibling rivalry. Otto feels awful about his wish and learns a valuable lesson, put best by the illustrator Magoon, "Otto grew up when he grew down."

Besides the sibling rivalry slant, the book is very clever in other ways as well. While talks about jealousy are helpful, my preschool daughter found the fantasy of time moving backwards most intriguing. Before reading the book to her, I must admit to wondering whether she would grasp the concept or get scared about time in reverse. After a little explanation she so totally got it and loved the pretend aspect. In fact, she wants to keep talking about time moving backwards. So much so, that we've read the book nearly every single day. Her favorite parts of the book include the illustration of the wristwatch hands going the wrong direction and the bathroom scene. (Fair warning, the book contains a small bit of potty humor, something that all children seem to love.) The other clever point? Teachers and parents should find this book quite useful in teaching about palindromes -- words or phrases that read the same way backward or forward. All the names of the characters in the book are palindromes: Otto, Anna, Bob, Mom and Dad.

Scott Magoon's mostly dark, cartoonish illustrations bring feeling to the story. His use of color helps display Otto's emotion, with muted blacks and grays showing his discontentedness and love inspired orangish-red when events turn around. On a sidenote, I personally think Otto has worse problems than the birth of his sibling, namely his father's choice in clothing. His father seems to make a habit out of wearing Hawaiian shirts, sometimes paired with cardigan sweaters and plaid pants. Talk about embarrassing. I know what I'd be wishing for on my next birthday if I were Otto.

Otto Grows Down by Michael Sussman, illustrated by Scott Magoon. Sterling (February 2009); 32 pages; ISBN 9781402747038
Related links:
Michael Sussman - Author Website
Scott Magoon - Illustrator Website
AuthorsNow interview with Michael Sussman
Frolicking through Cyberspace interview with Michael Sussman
Cambridge Wickedlocal.com news piece on Otto Grows Down
BOOK IT! Interview with Scott Magoon
Teaching PreK-8 - Palindrome activities

Win a copy! Sterling Publishing has kindly offered to give one Brimful Curiosities reader a copy of Otto Grows Down.

To enter, leave a comment with letting me know why you'd like to own this book.

Additional entry! - Just for fun, visit Michael Sussman's website www.ottogrowsdown.com and let me know which palindrome is your favorite from his list (or make your own up).

• For contact purposes, if you are a non-blogger or your email is not accessible in your blog profile, please leave a valid email address within the comment section.
• Contest is open to US and Canada only
• Contest ends on Monday, April 13th, 2009 at 11:59 PM CST.
• Winner will be chosen at random
Three ways to gain extra entries (Maximum total entries is 5):
1st extra entry: Follow Me! or subscribe by email or RSS reader
2nd extra entry: Blog about this contest then post your link in the comment section.
3rd extra entry: Follow me on twitter (iambrimful) and tweet about the contest.

76 comments:

3carnations said...

I saw a review of this book yesterday - It looks so cute. I like the lesson of "Be careful what you wish for".

My son would love it!

Alice H said...

My son is growing up so fast - I'd love to read this with him! Thanks for the chance - alicedemske at hotmail.com

Alice H said...

I like 'A toyota's a toyota!' cause I drive a toyota! Thanks - alicedemske at hotmail.com

shelburns said...

This looks so cute. My grandaughter is getting ready to be a big sister after 6 years alone, so this may be the perfect book for her!

shelcows AT gmail DOT com

shelburns said...

Just tweeted this!

http://twitter.com/writereader/status/1438654760

Bee and Rose said...

This looks like such a cute book! My son was 6 when my daughter was born...

MJ said...

I actually have this book and LOVE it!!!
I'd like another copy to give to Reagan for her birthday!

mindy said...

i would love to win this for my great nephew thanks for the giveaway

Tj and Amy said...

I have heard good things about this book, I know my daughter would love it. amsbolda@hotmail.com

Tj and Amy said...

I follow on twitter and i tweeted. 1amypugmire. amsbolda@hotmail.com

Sara and Alex said...

I have seen this book at target and the graphics are so delightful

Homemaker said...

My son is finally out of the ripping and writting in books stage and after going thru all his books I realized the only ones that were still good are 2 and that is no joke..a 3 year old with only 2 good books...This would be an awesome addition to his sad bookshelf...

sallylynnsara@hotmail.com

lorf927 said...

I think this book looks really interesting and my son loves for me to read to him. I would love to win it for us.

Kelly said...

I work with kids- it'd be a fun book to share with them from the looks of it!

Z-Kids said...

I love Scott Magoon's work, and have yet to collect one. We'd love this!

The Halton Mom said...

I'm always looking for books that can capture both my 5 year old and 1 year olds attention. A picture book that isn't fluff is right up my alley. Count me in!

lil_wifey21 at yahoo dot com

Anonymous said...

i'd like to win this because it is really an interseting book for children ..i think my niece would like it


pattifritz2000 at yahoo dot com

Staci said...

I like "No Sir! Away! A papaya war is on!"
mommastaci33@yahoo.com

searcher said...

I would love this book for my grandkids! I love to read to them.

searcher7105(at)gmail.com

searcher said...

eye kayak level noon wow
that is so clever!

searcher7105(at)gmail.com

Amy said...

I blogged about this here
http://chicbookreviews.blogspot.com

Thanks for the opportunity!

Brooke said...

My son would love this.. we read to him all the time and he loves to find new words... I think this would be a great way to introduce palindrome...

liane66 said...

My son would love this,
Thanks for the giveaway!
Kimspam66(at)yahoo(dot)com

Selinda said...

My son would love this book! We are constantly talking about yesterdqay versus tomorrow and I think that this would help him!

Thanks,

selinda_mccumbers at yahoo.com

Just Another SAHM said...

What a fabulous story! I wish I'd had that one when ds was born - exactly one month before dd's 4th birthday. I think she would still enjoy it because I know there are times she would make that wish. ;)

Just Another SAHM said...

Do geese see God?

That is def. my favorite palindrome from that page.
Funny, you'd think the word palindrome would be one. ;)

EllyBean said...

I'm looking to add some wonderful books to my daughter's home library of books :)

EllyBean said...

I'm a subscriber of your blog
ellybean (at) connected2christ.com
http://www.connected2christ.com/theblog

clallen said...

i would love to read this book to my kids. i know that they would enjoy it over and over again. clallen at ntin dot net

clallen said...

tweeted http://twitter.com/clallen1971/status/1484574172 thanks again.

Marie said...

This would be a great book to share with my two children!

vmlay@artsci.wustl.edu

Lori said...

I'm sure that my daughter thinks about not having her brother anymore quite often. This would be a good story for our house.
lkziegler[at]gmail[dot]com

Renee G said...

I'd love to have the book to share with my two boys --- I know they would love this.

rsgrandinetti(at)yahoo(dot)com

Renee G said...

I like "Sit on a potato pan, Otis."


rsgrandinetti@yahoo(dot)com

targetmom said...

I'd love to win this book b/c it looks like it would be so much fun to read with my little one.

Beth said...

I have heard reviews on this and think it would be perfect for my granddaughter.

lilbabypug said...

my son loves to read, and I love to read to him. we are always looking for fun new books to add to our library.