Fern and Otto: A Story About Two Best Friends – Stephanie Graegin

 Fern and Otto: A Story About Two Best Friends – Stephanie Graegin. Schwartz & Wade Books, 2020. 9780593121306

Format: Hardcover

Rating:  1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5

 Genre: picture book

 What did you like about the book?   Best friends Fern Bear and Otto Cat share a cozy treehouse and appear to have a pretty happy life together.  When Fern decides to write a story about all the things they enjoy doing together, Otto suggests they go for a walk in the forest to find something a little more exciting to write about.  The pair sets out, and Otto excitedly predicts they will meet a dragon, or a unicorn… but it turns out the forest they are walking through is inhabited by all sorts of familiar creatures from nursery rhymes and fairy tales (even a nod to Aesop’s Fables with a well-known race about to take place)!  Fern is very intrigued by the characters they meet – a little girl serving porridge from a house with bear-ish decor, a dish running around with a spoon, and many more.  Otto, on the other hand, is sure there will be something even more exciting if they just keep moving.  But that leads them to a suspicious wolf leaning against a tree and inviting them to Grandma’s house, and then a witch with a delicious looking house.  After retreating to their treehouse, Otto is exhausted from their adventure and goes to bed, while Fern stays up to finish writing her book about her best friend. 

Young readers will absolutely delight in this charming best friend story.  Every page of the pair’s adventure is chock-full of treasure – storybook characters and sly references, some very obvious, and some hiding behind trees or toadstools.  There is an omniscient narrator leading us through, and all dialogue is conveyed in speech bubbles.  There are two charming styles of illustrations showcased: the lovely pencil sketches of Fern’s book, as well as the full-bleed pictures in the main narrative.  

Anything you did not like about the book?   no

 To whom would you recommend this book? Definitely a good fit for lap-reading, as grownup and child will love poring through the pictures looking for favorite characters.  Highly recommended for anyone who loves classic children’s books, Fern and Otto is a classic in the making!

Who should buy this book? Public and elementary school libraries

Where would you shelve it?  Picture books

 Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?  no

 Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City:  Leigh Russell King, Lincoln Street School, Northborough, Massachusetts.

Date of review: 2/11/2021

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