Katie Cleminson’s warm, bear-hug of a tale stars a cuddly hero who has a secret life outside the pages of the book where he lives.
We’ve all heard of a book worm, but how about a book bear? Otto, a big, brown bear, is one such appealing creature who lives in a book on a shelf in a house. He’s happiest when children read his book, and (when no-one’s looking) he does something quite special indeed. He comes to life, walks right out of the pages and goes off to explore.
Katie Cleminson’s style is simple yet distinctive, with thick black inky lines carrying energy and movement and a generous proportion of white space helping to focus our attention on the details. And she’s a master of the ‘show don’t tell’ principle, leaving a trail of pictorial clues about what is closest to Otto’s heart: he gazes tenderly at a photo of the children who own his book (sweet!), reads his favourite stories (hmmm, seems he’s a bit of a ‘book worm’ book bear himself) and practises his writing on a typewriter (an aspiring author, too!).
One of the things that makes Otto so appealing is his tiny size. Once he is out and about in the real world, he is exquisitely small – the stairs he climbs appear as mountains, the typewriter looks huge. A bear who could fit onto a child’s palm? Like elves, imps and fairies, Otto’s diminutive proportions give him a magical quality that children can’t resist.
Having taken this hero to heart, readers will feel the full force of the terrible event that occurs. The family pack up and move house, and Otto’s book is accidentally left behind. Otto doesn’t like being alone, so sets off to find a new place to live, but the city is a cold and unfriendly place. In a big crowd he’s never looked smaller, and an empty coffee cup is no home for a book bear. Otto is feeling pretty downhearted, until he spots a place full of light and hope… a library. Inside, Otto discovers fun, friendship and endless adventures. And best of all, there are lots of children to read his book again and again.
If there were ever a ringing endorsement of the joy of libraries, then Otto The Book Bear is it. Once familiar with this character and his tale, your child will want to hot-foot it down to one of these splendid places to see who they’ll meet, and what book-fuelled adventures they too can encounter
Author notes Katie Cleminson studied illustration for children’s publishing at the North Wales School of Art. She achieves her distinctive black line by squeezing ink from an ink bottle pipette directly onto the page. Otto The Book Bear is her third published picture book. Her first book was A Box Of Tricks starring a girl who magics all sorts of wonderful things out of cardboard box, including a polar bear called Monty (she seems to have a thing for bears!). The book earned her the title of Best Emerging Illustrator at the Booktrust Early Years Award 2009. She also the creator of Wake Up! about a boy whose daily life is made all the more colourful by some animal helpers.