Otto and Pio

Marianne Dubuc. Princeton Architectural Press, $17.95 (68p) ISBN 978-1-61689-760-4
In this quiet story by Dubuc (Up the Mountain Path), the unidentified creature who appears in front of squirrel Otto’s tree trunk dwelling isn’t just uninvited, he’s inconvenient. Otto feels compelled to look after the furry, pink-snouted Pio (he’s named for the sound he most often makes), but Pio grows larger every day, pushing Otto out of his green hammock bed, then out of his house. Otto is ambivalent but ethical about Pio’s arrival: “I am not your mommy,” he tells the furry creature coolly. “Tomorrow we’ll hang up posters. I’m sure your real mother is looking for you.” Dubuc’s gently colored spreads provide almost documentary-level detail—she draws all the leaves on Otto’s tree, the tiny posters Otto plasters all over it, and the vegetables Pio chops up for soup. Slowly, Otto realizes that Pio is generous and helpful. And when Pio rescues him from a frightening predator, he decides that it might be worth making room to accommodate his new friend. Dubuc doesn’t insist that readers warm right up to new or strange situations. It takes a long time, sometimes, for creatures to learn to love each other. Ages 5–8. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 12/03/2018
Release date: 03/01/2019
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