Otto’s Orange Day
By Jay Lynch
Illustrated by Frank Cammuso
TOON Books, Raw Junior
ISBN: 9780979923821
Grades K-2
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Possibly the most frustrating situation I encounter in my work as a school librarian is when I run into the one track kid. These youngsters have a genre/subject that must be present in the books they read. Scary books, truck books, princess books, funny books – the list goes on. I usually do my best to find some titles in their topic of choice, but this type of reader can be picky. “Otto’s Orange Day” is for every kid who is set in their ways and could use a nudge toward a broadening of horizons. Buy two copies – it’s a page-turner that beginning readers will likely wear out from dangerously high levels of enjoyment.

Otto (a cat) has a favorite color – orange. If he had his druthers, the whole world would be one big orange explosion. One day Otto receives an orange oil lamp from his Aunt, and a genie appears to grant his wish. Just like that, everything is tangerine. It starts out great, but Otto soon learns that some things are better off in full color. Food, for instance. And traffic lights, they are different colors for a reason. It’s also handy to be able to describe someone as something other than orange, especially if said person is a fugitive from the law. Pretty quick, our hero is a bit spooked and looking for ways to change things back to the good ol’ days of brown colored lamb chops. That task proves to be difficult, since the genie only grants one wish. Otto must use his wits to bring back the Technicolor.

The illustrations are suitably cartoonish in style, with heavy outlines and vibrant colors. The dialog is spoken using word bubbles. As for the way the book is put together, much love to Françoise Mouly. I dig the design. I’m always a sucker for paper on board covers. The title has this cool floating effect that I like. The cover art shows glimpses of panels, letting the reader know that they’re about to read a comic-style book. In other words, it looks like fun. This is one that kids will be drawn to and proud to carry.

Having read a few of the new TOON Book releases, I’ll concur with the masses of critics that have already weighed in on the subject by saying that “Otto’s Orange Day” and its kin are going to make a lasting impact on young readers.

To visit the TOON Books blog, click here.

To visit the TOON Books website, click here.

The outstanding children’s lit blog A Fuse #8 Production posted audio from the TOON Books reception held on January 12, 2008 in Philadelphia. To hear that clip featuring Francoise Mouly and Art Spiegelman discussing the impetus behind TOON Books, click here.

Find this book at your local library with WorldCat.