Prather’s Pick: ‘Utterly Otterly Night,’ an utterly delightful picture book
The illustrations for this week’s picture book, created by Ard Hoyt, are “utterly” beautiful. “Utterly Otterly Night” was written by Mary Casanova. The book is published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (2011).
Imagine a snowy, cold night somewhere in the woods. Snow blankets the earth. The stars are out. So is a moose that drinks from a stream. Some rabbits are out, too, and an owl. Otherwise, all is quiet.
In a little cave on the bank of the stream, an otter family snoozes away. They seem quite content until Little Otter wakes up. He’s ready to go out and play in an “utterly otterly way.” So he wakes up his sister, Mama and Papa. It’s an otter’s way to play out in the snow, so the family is ready, but Mama warns that, at the first sign of danger, they all need to head back inside.
Little Otter isn’t worried. He’s a big otter now, and he knows what to do. So he slides down into the stream, pops up through a hole in the ice and runs to the top of a hill. He drops to his belly and slides down the hill, “friskily, whiskily down.”
Little Otter is in for a surprise, because a big rabbit jumps out of the snow, right on top of the otter’s head. There’s danger, too. Papa spots an owl overhead, and the otters hide themselves down in the snow. A moose clomps past, nearly stepping on Little Otter.
However, none of this compares with the danger Little Otter senses while he is off playing by himself. He tries to warn the family, but they’re busy playing and can’t hear him. Five wolves peer out from the trees — wolves with big teeth and yellow eyes. One of them licks his lips.
Little Otter knows what to do. He pretends as if he hasn’t seen the wolves, and though he’s scared to death, he leads the wolves away from his family in a “quakingly, shakingly” way. Sure enough, the family members are able to get to the safety of their home.
But what about Little Otter? What ensues is amusing, indeed. Five wolves get their “comeuppance.”
Readers of all ages will enjoy this book, though it is intended for age 3 to 6. “Utterly Otterly Night” costs $16.99 in hardcover, though you can probably find it in softcover. You can also find the book in the children’s room at the Craig branch of the Moffat County Library.