cover image OTTO'S TRUNK


Sandy Turner, . . HarperCollins/Cotler, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-06-000956-4

Freud would have a field day with this story of a young elephant who is teased for his "teeny-weeny" trunk. On the playground, Otto shrinks from his peers, whose echoing "ha ha has" and word-balloon insults ("squirt!," "ain't it small!") follow him everywhere. He tries various trunk-lengthening schemes, such as stretching his schnoz with a barbell, and he looks admiringly at his couch-potato father, who uses his own magnificent appendage for shoving pizza into his mouth. "I want one just like my dad's," says Otto, as his dismayed mother covers her eyes and insists, "No, no, no." Otto never talks back to his foes, but one day he lets out a sudden snort. This startling exhalation "hissed, hogged, mooed, and cock-a-doodle-dooed," and Otto's classmates, in an immediate, unbelievable reversal, begin praising his talent for animal noises. As with his previous books (Silent Night; Grow Up), Turner draws in ordinary lead and colored pencils on brown grocery paper, mimicking the ingenuous cartoons from a child's notebook. He retraces and smears the lines for a studied naiveté. Otto's trunk varies from one portrait to another, and at times does not appear so different from his peers'—which suggests that it is his timidity that makes him a target. Yet the focus is on physical size and, indirectly, taboos. This volume may arch a few adult eyebrows and produce some knowing winks, but offers little advice to youngsters who feel they don't measure up. Ages 4-8. (Aug.)