I love sharing new books with my two kiddos. My kindergartener is an avid little reader, and my toddler son loves to flip through the pages of his own books too. I am always looking for new books to add to my home library. When recently offered the chance to review Otis Grows written by Kathryn Hast and illustrated by L.M. Phang in exchange for my honest opinion, I eagerly accepted the opportunity to add a new title to my home library. The hardback book currently costs $13.67 on Amazon with a list price of $19.99 while the paperback version costs $8.99.
Currently residing in Asheville, North Carolina with her husband and two children, author Kathryn Hast earned a Master’s of Fine Arts degree in writing and a Master’s degree in Education. She has one dog named after a Beatles song, and one that barks at the television. Otis Grows is her first published work of fiction, and her next book Batty Betty is forthcoming.
Illustrator L.M. Phang is a freelance illustrator who loves drawing and trying out different styles. She makes illustrations for web and print, video games, comics, books, and more.
Recommended for children between the ages of 3 and 12 in kindergarten through sixth grade, Otis Grows is a picture book rooted in the challenges of family conflict that appeals to any child or adult who knows that growing up can be tough. Young Otis is a red onion whose mother, a yellow chicken, is part of the Nuh-Uhs and whose father, a blue flower, stems from the Yes-Chums. Forced to question his origin and allegiances, Otis runs away and encounters more colors (and cultures) than he could ever imagine including a giant portrait full of possibilities.
Change, conflict, and grief are constants in the world. Otis Grows introduces children to the concepts of some adult problems that often sneak into the beauty of the world. Otis is a red onion whose mother is a yellow chicken and whose father is a blue flower. Despite having come together in the past to create the little onion, the chicken and the flower simply cannot get along. Otis feels torn and pulled in two opposite directions. Many children can definitely relate to the little onion, especially children living in families experiencing conflict.
I must admit that I was a little confused by Otis Grows at first. I was having trouble grasping the idea of a red onion, yellow chicken, and blue flower family. However, after reading the book a couple of times, I began to understand the deeper message better. After witnessing more fighting between his parents yet again, Otis runs away from his creek home and runs into Crystal, a new friend who reminds him of the beauty in the world. Otis grows, and, in doing so, reminds the reader to slow down, see the beauty in the world, and grow too.
In addition to the beautiful message in Otis Grows, I also quite enjoy the colorful illustrations. The pictures are quite simple in style but really help bring the story to life. I especially like the juxtaposition of the yellow chickens and the blue flowers. Not until Otis runs away from the fighting does he find more colors in the world, colors that collide on the canvas of history. Both my kindergartener and toddler also enjoy looking at the illustrations throughout the book.
Written for children with deeper grown-up themes, Otis Grows written by Kathryn Hast and illustrated by L.M. Phang encourages kids and parents to read the book together to discuss the changes that accompany growth and growing older and how to find diversity and beauty in a sometimes ugly world. Otis is a red onion whose mother is a yellow chicken and whose father is a blue flower, and his parents fight all the time. Upon running away from the fighting, Otis discovers that the world is still full of beauty — if we slow down and stop rushing past creeks.
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‘Otis Grows’ Book Review © 2017 Heather Johnson
Cover of ‘Otis Grows’ © 2017 Heather Johnson
Inside Pages of ‘Otis Grows’ 1 © 2017 Heather Johnson
Inside Pages of ‘Otis Grows’ 2 © 2017 Heather Johnson
Inside Pages of ‘Otis Grows’ 3 © 2017 Heather Johnson