Otto Grows Down
By Michael Sussman
Illustrated by Scott Magoon
Sterling Children’s Books
ISBN: 9781402747038
Grades K-2
In Stores


A Review in Reverse

Engaging and entertaining, Otto Grows Down is hard to deny.

The artwork doesn’t take itself too seriously, and is a worthy match for a story that does the same. Similar to the recent The Very Hungry Dinosaur, Scott Magoon’s (Rabbit & Squirrel: A Tale of War & Peas) illustrations exude a deceptively simple, childlike quality.

Plot-driven and genuinely funny (there is a bathroom scene that had me absolutely disgusted, yet laughing out loud just the same), youngsters will be drawn in from page one. This title’s usefulness in a read-aloud setting is clear.

Will Otto be able to set things straight before he ceases to exist? But it doesn’t work. His birthday wish is for things to go back to normal. When his 5th birthday arrives, Otto has had enough. But time keeps going backward. Immediately, time and events start moving in reverse – un-blowing out the candles, walking backwards – and it isn’t long before Anna is out of the picture. Amazingly, he gets his way. Upstaged at his own b-day bash, Otto blows out his candles wishing that little sis were never born. One week before Otto’s 6th birthday, his little sister Anna steals his thunder by being born. The story begins with an easily relatable set-up.

A solidly above average release that is sure to be a read-aloud success. Funny, clever, and sporting a subtle moral that doesn’t thwack young readers on the head. Otto Grows Down takes this theme, adds a bit of time-in-reverse craziness, and comes out a winner. Excitement, anticipation, and the ever-so-familiar resentment are a few of the mixed feelings that spring from such an event. Plenty of kids have a hard time adjusting to a new sibling.

Review copy provided by the publisher.

Also reviewed by Literate Lives, Books Upon a Wee One’s Shelf.

Find this book at your local library with WorldCat.