Otto’s Backwards Day

Frank Cammuso, Author, Jay Lynch, Illustrator
Frank Cammuso with Jay Lynch. Candlewick/Toon Books, $12.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-9351-7933-7
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Five years after Otto’s Orange Day, Cammuso and Lynch return with Otto the cat’s second adventure. Luckily for Otto, his birthday is tomorrow; unluckily, someone has stolen his gifts. Catching a glimpse of the thief, Otto follows the perpetrator into Professor Barkwords’s doghouse laboratory. Readers get a crash course in palindromes (and what’s really important where birthdays are concerned) as Otto travels through the professor’s gateway to “the backwards world... a world very much like our own, except that everything is backwards, topsy-turvy,” Barkwords explains. Otto will be fine there, since his name is a palindrome, and so will his companion, a robot named Toot who can transform into a race car and kayak (palindromes, as well). The oddities of the backwards world provide fast-paced thrills as Otto and Toot are pursued by the “star rats” police force (“Rats chasing a cat! That is backwards!” quips Otto) and find out who stole Otto’s birthday loot. There’s a message about the importance of friends and family underlying the story, but Cammuso’s action-packed cartooning keeps the emphasis on fun. Ages 4–8. (Aug.)
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