Thursday, May 15, 2008

Oscar Otter

Oscar Otter
Nathaniel Benchley
illustrations by Arnold Lobel
Harper & Row, 1966

Bought my old-school Oscar at a little shop in Southport, NY, but it is still in print in an early reader edition. My son the (animal) nut often pretend-plays using the plot line, and even gets our two golden retrievers into the game. The writer was the son of the famous Alquonquin Round Table author, Robert, and the father of the man who created JAWS, Peter.... and the illustrator, of course, the beloved Mr. Lobel -- king of the muted monotones. There is just something about this book. I can't quite get an index on it. Maybe it is the sweet combination of the imagery of aloneness and breaking the rules with the escaping evil and coming home again that makes me tingle. Sort of a nice little metaphor about going out on your own, but being able to come back. It makes the world seem like a really safe place.

So, Oscar is all about building otter slides, see. But when he gets PO'd at a beaver for cramping his style, he heads out on a secret adventure that almost gets him eaten alive.

"You're late for supper, his father said.
"Where have you been?"
"Late?" said Oscar.
"I almost was supper--a fox's supper."
"Next time," said his father,
"will we try to be not quite so smart?"
"What next time?" replied Oscar.
"I am happy right where I am."

The element of "I told you so" has been very effective in my house. My son is fully aware that Oscar is a "bad boy", and totally gets the real life correlation. Nice, right? Oh, the things kids pick up from books!

Also by:
A Ghost Named Fred
The Terrible Tiger
Red Tag Comes Back
Oscar Otter
The Star Thief
Mouse Tales
Prince Bertram the Bad
The Secret Three
Benny's Animals
Miss Suzy
Martha the Movie Mouse
Terry and the Caterpillars
The Strange Disappearance of Arthur Cluck
Ice Cream Cone Coot


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1 comment:

Silvia said...

I love Oscar Otter, it was given to me along with Edgar, the super dolphin. I like these old readers more than my girls, who enjoy them too. Oscar is a character children (and grown ups too) can relate to very well, ha ha ha.

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