Tuesday, July 09, 2013
Otis Dooda: Strange But True
The first up, is Ellen Potter's new book Otis Dooda: Strange But True. Potter has stepped out of her wheelhouse with this illustrated novel for the younger set, but since Potter is writing it, you know the writing is tight.
Otis and the rest of the Dooda family are making a move to NYC. They are moving into the 35 story Tidwell Towers, which impresses Otis since it looks like it's made up of LEGO blocks! Otis notices the automatic door and thinks that moving is "kind of cool, like we were moving into a Price Chopper Supermarket!" (p8) The automatic doors aren't the only thing that is different from Otis' old place...there seems to be a kid skulking in a potted plant in the lobby. It turns out that he gives everyone the shakedown for candy and other goods when they come into the building, and if you don't pay up he curses you!
Otis finds this out the hard way, refusing to sacrifice his homemade LEGO lie detector. Otis gets the details when he befriends Perry, a kid on his floor with the strangest looking and smelliest dog you've ever seen. One of the great things about Tidwell Towers is that there are lots of kids, and before long Otis is hanging out with Perry, Cat and Boris and they are hatching plans to put the kibosh on the plant guy.
What follows is an often hilarious tale of the often dysfunctional apartment slash big city life. As I said, this isn't what I would necessarily expect from Potter, however, I know at my library I have daily requests for "something with lots of pictures, like Wimpy Kid", and this fits the bill. Strange parents, a creepy older brother, rats and poodles, friends with parents with odd jobs, and trying to dodge the inevitable summer enrollment in classes all come into play. The humor is sly and horse rear end oriented at the same time, and readers will likely laugh out loud along the way.