cover image Do Unto Otters: A Book About Manners

Do Unto Otters: A Book About Manners

Laurie Keller, . . Holt, $16.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-7996-8

Keller’s (The Scrambled States of America ) latest offers lessons in the social graces, featuring Mr. Rabbit and his whiskery new neighbors, the otters. “I don’t know anything about otters ,” the pink-eyed, pink-nosed protagonist agonizes. “What if we don’t get along?” At this, a bookish owl pops in from the margin with an apt take on the Golden Rule: “Do unto otters as you would have otters do unto you.” Hmmm...,” muses Mr. Rabbit, “How would I like otters to treat me?” When he opines, “I’d like otters to be polite ,” a gray otter in polka-dot shorts demonstrates how to say “please” in five languages (counting Pig Latin), then does the same for “thank you” and the indispensable “excuse me.” Later, the smiling otters “co-otter -ate” and help friends move a heavy log. Even disagreements can be managed. Keller loads her acrylic-on-paper images with comical asides and tangential conversations, and goggle eyes, rubbery smiles and rounded teeth suggest her cast’s goofball personalities; no mistaking them for Little Lord Fauntleroys. Without prescribing perfect etiquette, Keller serves up sound, friendly advice for maintaining a peaceable kingdom. Ages 5-8. (Sept.)