Sunday, June 1, 2008

Do Unto Otters: A Book About Manners by Laurie Keller

Otters have moved in. Next door. Right next door. Like…neighbors! Otters!!!

What’s a poor rabbit to do? All Mr. Rabbit wants is to doo-dee-doo through the forest on occasion and not have to deal with neighbors like Mrs. Grrrrrrr, his former neighbor (who, according to a helpful little bee, was voted “Meanest Neighbor” six years running).

Thankfully the wise old owl arrives with some advice. (Please excuse this brief aside, but in this humble reviewer’s opinion, the wise old owl looks mysteriously like another wise old owl. How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop? “One. Two. Three.” Crrrunch!)

Back to the advice. The owl informs Mr. Rabbit that the solution is easy. Simply do unto otters as you would have otters do unto you. So Mr. Rabbit starts to think. How would he like otters to treat him? Hmmmm. Otters should…

Be friendly. Be polite. Say “Thank you,” and “Excuse me.” Be honest. Otters should cooperate and play fair. Sometimes otters will need to apologize, and sometimes they will need to forgive.

“You see, Mr. Rabbit, I told you it was simple!” says his lollypop crunching friend. (Really, there's no lollypop, but it makes me chuckle nevertheless.)

As Mr. Rabbit explains how otters should act, he imagines the otters in numerous situations showing their otter-ly wonderful behavior. The illustrations are hilarious. I didn’t know otters – at least literary otters – wear top hats, spectacles, and funky polka-dotted swim trunks. There’s even language lessons (how to say “Please,” “Thank you,” and “Excuse me,” in five different languages).

Kids will have heard all the rules before, but they will enjoy hearing them again as Mr. Rabbit explains how he expects his new neighbors to act. And of course, how he is expected to act toward others…um, otters.

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