“Otter and Odder; A Love Story,” by James Howe, illustrated by Chris Raschka; Candlewick Press, $14.00, 40 pages, ages 5-7.
An otter falls in love with a fish that he might normally consider eating, and so begins this tale of discovering l’amour and the challenges of keeping an unlikely love alive. Author James Howe’s hallmark read-aloud style (for which he won the E.B White Read Aloud award for 2007’s “Houndsley and Catina”) is in top form, with breezy, rolling, flowing lines of poetic prose: “But when Otter gazed into those eyes – those round, sweet, glistening eyes, he knew that he had found what he had not known he was looking for.” Subtle humor throughout ensures that adults reading this will also smile during Otter’s journey to be with his beloved Myrtle. Standout pencil on watercolor illustrations are by Caldecott Medal winner Chris Raschka (“A Ball for Daisy”). They are deceptively childlike, almost appearing to have been completed on a whim. Yet closer examination reveals a master at his craft, who brings together elements of fanciful expression in vibrant hues and layers of texture that will appeal to multigenerational readers.