Full of bright color and themes of growth and awakening, Otis Grows is a perfect addition to every family’s spring and summer reading list.
As much as we’d like to, there’s no way to completely shield our children from all change, conflict, and grief. The truth is, there’s so much beauty in the world often overshadowed by the “scary” that it’s more important than ever that we teach our kids how to confidently grow in the face of challenge. As my oldest daughter grows, she sometimes wants to compare herself to her peers and even her father and I to look for connections and sometimes things she sees as deficits in her own ability. When she does, I have to remind her that she is absolutely unique and talented in ways that I am not and that everyone has special ways in which they are different.
Recently, I told a friend a funny but at the time a very poignant story from my childhood. My parents are true Appalachians and I’m the only reason they’ve ever been on a plane. I’m supposed to be the ‘wild’ one in the family (which I laugh at – since that is so not me!) who decided to go to Europe when I was in high school and they freaked out and said something bad would happen if I went. I remember being on the plane to London (my first plane trip) and we hit really bad turbulence and I thought, “Oh great, my parents were right!” Of course, I tease them about it now, but I think I probably kissed the ground when the plane landed! Sure, there were many times I felt like the odd ball out with others, and still do, but I have also learned I have my own unique differences that are sometimes my biggest strengths.
“All good art, like life itself, contains an element of darkness. This coming-of-age story is no exception, but what is ultimately revealed to Otis (and the reader) is the complicated chameleon beauty of our world.” Brendan Carrick, University of Chicago Press
In the beautifully crafted new children’s book Otis Grows by Kathryn Hast, we’re introduced to young Otis, a red onion who is forced to question his origin and allegiances—given that his mom, a yellow chicken, is part of the Nuh-Uhs, and his dad, a blue flower, stems from the Yes-Chums. Struggling to find answers, Otis runs away, only to encounter more colors and cultures than he could ever imagine. Rooted in the challenges of family conflict, this book appeals to any child – or adult – who knows that growing up can be tough, but that, ultimately, love and wonder will win. It’s a wonderful and inspirational book that you can use as a platform to discuss each individual’s special qualities that they bring into the world and it’s important to see our own unique abilities as things that make us ‘US’ and it’s not a bad thing to get lost in the crowd of what we imagine is ‘normal’.
Check it out! For more information about the author and the book, including activities and discussion questions, please visit: www.lujubooks.com.
About the Author: Kathryn holds a B.A. from Penn State University, an M.F.A. from Emerson College, and an Ed.M. from the University of Illinois. She wrote the first draft of Otis Grows in 2010, but did not begin seriously considering children’s literature until 2015. Perhaps having kids of her own had a stake in that: her daughter Lucille is three, and her son Julian is one. Kathryn is from York, Pennsylvania and lives in Asheville, North Carolina.
List Price: $ 8.99 (Available through Amazon Prime)