Otto's Backwards Day

with Jay Lynch. illus. by Frank Cammuso. 32p. Toon Bks. 2013. RTE $12.95. ISBN 9781935179337. LC 2012047661.
Gr 1–4—Otto is in for another crazy adventure when he stumbles upon preparations for his own surprise birthday party. Greed takes over, and he wants his party right then and there. His mother reminds him that all of his friends are coming the next day, his real birthday, but he doesn't care. He thinks cake, ice cream, balloons, and gifts are the most important parts of a celebration and not his family and friends. "I think you've got things backwards," says his father, and the young cat learns that there is more to a birthday than sweets and treats. Cammuso and Lynch are masterful at creating a comic that will appeal to children while at the same time imparting a simple lesson. The illustrations are colorful and attractive. The story is laid out in easy-to-follow panels that will allow even beginning readers to follow it. Otto will find an audience among fans of Ashley Spires's Binky the Space Cat (Kids Can, 2009) and Nadja Spiegelman's "Zig and Wikki" books (Toon).—Carol Hirsche, Provo City Library, UT
It's cat Otto's birthday, and he cares more about presents and cake than friends and family. When Otto's birthday is stolen, he goes into a backwards land where palindromes, opposites, and all things "topsy-turvy" abound. Even birthdays are backwards there, which helps Otto figure out what they're really about. Bright cartoon illustrations and a graphic-novel format will engage emergent readers.
An ironic sense of humor combines with fun rhymes and puzzles—especially palindromes—that display an attentiveness to language and spelling. Bright colors and dynamic illustrations will instantly engage readers. Backwards World is an odd, disorienting place, where everything is reversed: underwear is worn on the outside and trash is left on the ground. Yet the strangers Otto meets are nonthreatening and supportive—even the sea serpents are harmless. A lesson about the importance of friends and family is subtly contained within all the hijinks and wordplay.

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