Hey Otter! Hey Beaver!
Brian Pinkney. Greenwillow, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-06-315982-2
Told in snappy, reiterative dialogue that offers a chantlike feel, this portrait of two different personalities abounds with fluid sights and rhythmic sounds. Lithe Otter has brown fur and ample whiskers; purple Beaver has oversize incisors, a jowly snout, and a flat tail. Approaching the water together, the two swim among vibrant, multihued paint strokes that seem to swirl and splash. Flowing water and floating sticks mean playtime to Otter: “I’m balancing this stick. Now I’m tossing this stick. It’s time to play!” To Beaver, though, they represent precious building materials: “I really really really really need that stick to build my dam.” The two spar in quick repartee over everything that comes along, but neither one dominates the sparky interactions, which prove mutually respectful instead of conflict-driven: “What about twigs? Can you use twigs?” Otter asks. “I found these twigs!” When the dam is finished, Otter tries an experiment, and the results have the potential for catastrophe—or maybe not. Friends don’t have to be similar to get along, Pinkney (Bright Brown Baby) shows; they don’t even have to define fun the same way to have a good time. Ages 4–8. Agent: Rebecca Sherman, Writers House. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/01/2022