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Big City Otto (Elephants Never Forget) Hardcover – September 1, 2011


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 11 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 6
  • Lexile Measure: 250L (What's this?)
  • Series: Elephants Never Forget
  • Hardcover: 80 pages
  • Publisher: Kids Can Press (September 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1554534763
  • ISBN-13: 978-1554534760
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6.4 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,928,137 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Bill Slavin is an award-winning children's book illustrator with over 50 books to his credit. His works include Stanley's Party and The Bear on the Bed. He lives in Millbrook, Ontario.

Customer Reviews

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Monica Kulling on September 14, 2011
Format: Hardcover
BIG CITY OTTO written and illustrated by Bill Slavin, with Esperança Melo, Kids Can Press, Sep 1, 2011

Like many famous friendships between a physically large individual and one who does not occupy the same anatomical space -- think Laurel and Hardy, Abbott and Costello, and that famous comic book duo Asterix and Obelix -- a pair of friends working together is more effective than one or the other on his own. So it is with Otto the elephant and Crackers the parrot as they set off on their adventures in search of the ominous "Man with the Wooden Nose" who has kidnapped Georgie and taken him out of the jungle in a sack to who-knows-what-awful-life in America. Georgie's family adopted Otto when he was an orphaned baby and the memory of the day his playmate was taken haunts him still. "I just feel I could have done more," says the sensitive pachyderm, blowing his trunk into a banana leaf. (Kids will love spotting the many charming details, such as this one, in the art).

Accomplished and award-winning illustrator, Bill Slavin, has written a lively, funny graphic novel for the beginning reader. Fortunately for us, Big City Otto is the first book in a proposed trilogy, entitled Elephants Never Forget. The story flows along naturally and neatly from the moment the pair hit the highway into the city on a stolen airport luggage trolley. There are a number of side trips, pit stops, and false leads that ultimately see the pair separated and Otto at the mercy of the Alligari Brothers, the alligator gang from the sewers. The truck they drive says, "all kinds of cement work," another humorous detail for those who look closely.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on December 9, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Boy, The Man With the Yellow Hat just lost all credibility, didn't he? Time was that Curious George snatcher could nab the jungle beast of his choice, slap his hands together, and call it a day. These days, though, readers don't take too kindly to fellows who go about grabbing the next spare primate they set their sights on. Various children's authors have dealt with him one way or another ("Furious George Goes Bananas" by Michael Rex comes most immediately to mind). "Big City Otto" takes the idea from an entirely different bent. What if George left a friend behind? And what if that friend was an elephant? The result is something along the lines of Babar by way of Mowgli setting off on a mission to rescue Curious George. With a parrot sidekick. Can't believe I almost forgot the parrot sidekick.

Otto the elephant is depressed. No two ways about it. You'd be pretty depressed too, mind you, if your best buddy and practically step-brother, Georgie, was up and kidnapped by some crazed man with a wooden nose and a sack. After sighing and crying over his friend's disappearance, Crackers the parrot convinces Otto participate in a kind of a crazy scheme. Clearly Georgie was kidnapped and taken to America so all they'll have to do is go to the U.S., find him, and rescue him. Trouble is, it's not that simple. There's the getting there from Africa part (extra large cargo, anyone?), finding friendly folks who can help out, interviewing zoo animals, and more. But when Otto and Crackers fall in with a pack of crocodiles with ulterior motives, locating one little monkey is the least of their problems.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By GraphicNovelReporter.com on January 12, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Bill Slavin, who is best known for his children's book series Stanley, teams up with Esperança Melo for his first graphic novel. In it we meet Otto, an elephant unable to forget his friend Georgie. They grew up together, and Georgie, a chimp, was captured by a man and presumably taken to America. Otto is moping over his loss when another friend, a bird named Crackers, suggests they go to America and get Georgie back. America can't be that big, right?

The two animals journey the seas and enter America, where they're in over their heads. Crackers is the more street-smart one, whereas Otto is lovable and dense. In this graphic novel, the animals are all anthropomorphized and can talk to one another, regardless of species, as well as talk to humans.

While trying to find Georgie, Otto and Crackers get involved with some bad guy alligators, as seen on the cover. Some people mistake Otto for a man--a really big man--a joke that works in children's literature where you can use suspension of disbelief more. Another ongoing gag is the fact that, despite being an elephant, Otto is terribly allergic to peanuts. So much for the idea that elephants love peanuts.

By the end, Otto and Crackers do get a somewhat more specific clue about where Georgie might be, leaving it open for a continuing series.

The graphic novel is an all-around comedy, one children ought to enjoy. Its humor can be base, like bathroom humor, and I'm not saying that as a criticism, but a matter-of-fact statement. Otto's misunderstandings of language and city life are often used as joking material, like when he's told he needs to catch a cab to get somewhere. He literally goes out into the street and grabs a cab by the back.
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