Submitted by Ms. Tess!
There were many wonderful picture books that came out this year that I love (like this one, this one, this one, and this one). But this one is my favorite. Otter and Odder: A Love Story by James Howe, with illustrations by Chris Raschka. “The river sparkled the day Otter found love. He was not looking for it (love, that is). He was looking for dinner.” What he finds instead, or in spite of that I suppose, is a beautiful fish named Myrtle. It would seem impossible that an otter should fall in love with a fish, but when he gazes into her eyes for the first time, “he knew that he had found what he had not known he was looking for.” And as for Myrtle, she is equally smitten, for when she looks in Otter’s eyes she sees “the sparkling river reflected and a tender and lonely heart revealed.” And so, the otter and the fish swim into a new and surprising future together. In a perfect world, “an otter could fall in love with a fish, and a fish with an otter, and that would be that.” But the world is not perfect. Soon “the talking” begins. It’s not right. It’s not natural. It’s not “the way of the otter.” And in a way that’s true. How can Otter love Myrtle, but still eat fish? “They’re right.” Otter thinks. “It is impossible.” And yet, he can’t stop himself from thinking about Myrtle. “Is it the way of the otter… to be alone?” he contemplates miserably. One morning he meets wise Beaver along the river bank. Beaver asks Otter if he’d like an apple. Apples are tasty. Tastier than fish. “Have you ever eaten fish?” Otter asks. “No,” replies the beaver, “but I suppose I might if I ever fell in love with an apple.” And thusly, all hope is restored. Many things are more delicious than fish. In fact Otter wonders what he ever saw in fish, except for Myrtle, “Except for you, dear Myrtle,” he explains upon their tender reunion. And so “they lived happily ever after.” This is an amazing story of conquering obstacles, knowing what’s truly important, and not letting people’s opinions sway you from what you love. It is poetically written, and craftily illustrated. It is piece of art I think children and adults can appreciate, and a lesson we all need to learn. To quote Catherine Ryan Hyde, “Love always looks nice. I don’t really know anyone who doesn’t enjoy it when they see it. Anyone who doesn’t, I don’t really want to know them.” See this book listed in our catalog