A LOT OF OTTERS by Barbara Helen Berger


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The title may give the impression that this is a counting book; instead, Berger (The Jewel Heart, 1994, etc.) presents an exquisitely composed and tender fantasy, melding text and pictures so well that one could not exist without the other. She calibrates the pacing of this picture book perfectly: The first page shows a toddler walking with a book; the baby climbs into a box at the title page; at the opening of the real story, the child begins reading the book, about ""Mother Moon"" looking for her child, her ""moonlet."" What the child sees on the picture-book page is the scene readers see; from there, the events are nonstop: The toddler drops the book, and an otter spots it from underwater. That otter reads the book aloud to a group of otters treading water, including one who floats on her back with her baby lying upon her like a fuzzy teddy bear. The moon-mother's tears fall into the sea, turning into stars--a folktale element that allows for lovely compositions as the otters dive for the stars. Mother and moonlet--who turns out to be the toddler--are reunited. Themes of independence, separation, and reunion are all given play in a book in which sweet otters act like children and look like expertly drafted, favorite stuffed animals, floating and dozing off at the end.

Pub Date: Sept. 22nd, 1997
ISBN: 0698118634
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Philomel