- Otto: The Boy Who Loved Cars
Otto is completely obsessed with cars: he sleeps in a race-car bed, eats Wheelies breakfast cereal, insists on playing “Race around the Playground” every day at recess, and, when he can’t sleep, counts Jeeps. He is nonetheless completely taken aback when he wakes up one morning to find that he has become a shiny red convertible. To further complicate matters, no one else can see that Otto has become a car, so his unusual behaviors are perceived as rude and offputting (as when he tries to explain to his teacher why he is late but loudly honks instead). That night, poor snuffling Otto declares to his mother that he’s “sick of cars,” and the next morning a fully human but slightly wiser Otto jumps out of bed with a brand new appreciation for trying new things. Though it’s a little hard on youthful single-mindedness and the logic isn’t seamless, LaReau’s story is both cleverly executed and thoughtfully concluded. Otto is a wholly likable (and ridiculously familiar) little guy who is unable to see beyond his obsession, and the narrative is plucky and playful with lots of kid appeal. Magoon’s cartoonish compositions are chock-full of energy, featuring bold black outlines and eyes full of expression. Otto the boy looks a little like Brown’s Flat Stanley, with a retro hairdo, a toothy grin, and a splashing of freckles across his cheeks, and the little red car is a convincing automotive variant of him. [End Page 89] Car lovers in particular will enjoy Otto’s tale, but any kid who has ever dreamed of being something else will find lots of heart and humor in Otto’s story of new perspective.