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Otto Undercover #1: Born to Drive Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 and up
  • Series: Otto Undercover (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (December 27, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060754966
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060754969
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 6.2 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,436,159 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In the launch title of the Otto Undercover series, Perlman's mostly feeble stabs at humor will likely elicit fewer laughs than her deftly delivered comedic performances as an actress. In the driver's seat is Otto Pillip, who has built his own racecar, the fastest on the planet, which, given his penchant for palindromes, he has named Racecar. Since his parents left years ago (allegedly on an expedition to discover the eighth continent), Otto has lived with his two aunts, who helped him get his driver's license (which entailed passing a 30-page written test) and wrote a note "to get him out of school for the rest of his life." The villains here are two bumbling blockheads who "were both in third grade for eight years, till they got kicked out of school for setting fire to the teacher." Determined to win the $1 million first-place prize in a big road race, this dastardly duo steals Racecar, leaving a look-alike in its place. Luckily, Otto has some inventions up his sleeve and a happy ending is in store. Santat's brash cartoons add to the inanity of this slim caper, which contains numerous palindromes, anagrams and backward words, decoded in the pages' margins.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Grade 3-6–Otto Pillip loves palindromes, which isn't surprising, given his name. Although he's only 11, he invents all kinds of incredible devices and drives a race car named Racecar. Having lost his parents mysteriously as a baby, he lives with his two peculiar aunts, FiFi and FooFoo. Otto enters a race with a one-million-dollar purse, but, the night before the event, Racecar is stolen by two exceptionally obtuse bad guys. They don't realize that Otto has loaded his car with an invention to defeat every deception imaginable. Perlman (yes, the comic actress of Cheers fame) breaks the novel into tiny, easy-to-digest bits (some of the 36 chapters are only a few words long), which offers the possibility of a fun read, especially for hard-to-motivate readers. Unfortunately, the humor, as well as the story, is mostly lame and repetitious, and Santat's cartoon illustrations add little to the mix. In the second book, Otto receives a secret message implying that if he travels to the Grand Canyon, he might obtain a clue to the whereabouts of his missing parents, so he and his aunts head west. Much silliness ensues involving a crook in a dress, aunts disguised as uncles, 10,000 sticks of dynamite, and a pet cockroach. Like the first novel, Canyon Catastrophe seems designed for reluctant readers, but the gags tend to repeat themselves, the humor involving palindromes and anagrams gets old fast, and the art is only adequate.–Walter Minkel, New York Public Library
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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See all 17 customer reviews
I was very pleased to see that her writing is just as funny and offbeat as her acting.
Rebecca Riddle
I highly recommend this book for beginning independent readers and am very glad that it is a series so my students will have future books to look forward to.
Freya Reisman
I totally recommend this to anyone who is trying to get their child to read more chapter books and get away from the picture books with short sentences!
Ann M. Wilkins

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Carol Banever on January 4, 2006
Format: Paperback
Otto Pillip (palindrome extraordinaire) is a madcap, zany adventure full of funny and colorful characters, plot twists that keep you guessing, and grammatical puzzles which make reading this book a fast-paced and exciting interactive experience. Rhea Perlman gives both kids and grown-ups a great ride!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Freya Reisman on January 6, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I am a veteran learning disability specialist with L.A.U.S.D. and I picked up "Otto Undercover" to read aloud to my students. They loved the silly characters, imaginative adventures that Otto experiences, and the palindromes and other word puzzles. I am always looking for high interest books with a reasonable readability level for my students and this book has inspired some of my most reluctant readers with chapters that contain only one word in addition to chapters that are pages long. They like saying they have already read one, two, or three chapters today. I highly recommend this book for beginning independent readers and am very glad that it is a series so my students will have future books to look forward to.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Diane Demeter on January 4, 2006
Format: Hardcover
A wild race with an amazing racecar; wonderful invention of a boy hero and his two aunties, dumb villains, surprising twists, funny made-up words,anagrams and palindromes.... I could not put it down because it was so "hip," and hilarious and I wanted to KNOW WHAT HAPPENED! The illustrations really give the humorous, innocent and madcap flavor of the book. This series is going to be fantastic!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jo Ann Kalb on January 2, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Through a friend I was able to preview a pre-publication copy of "Otto Undercover, Born to Drive" and share it with a third grade class in Brooklyn NY. It was a fantastic experience. When they weren't laughing at the wacky characters, they were begging me not to stop at each page turning chapter (or half a chapter) which is a great Perlman device. The palindromes and anagrams add an extra dimension. I just purchased 5 copies of each title to distribute the the other third grade teachers in my school. An intelligent rib-tickling way to start the New Year
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on February 24, 2006
Format: Hardcover
For kids who find chapter books boring, this is the kind of book that makes them fun to read. Not only is this book hilarious, but it was hard to put down because the story itself was so interesting. The Aunts, to me, were really funny, especially when singing. The book is not only about palindromes, but backwards words, and anagrams as well. I enjoyed it very much, and so did my friends.

Chris M.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jon Landau on January 1, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I was privileged to get an advance look at Rhea Perlman's book. The real pleasure was being able to share it with my 9-year-old son. We both laughed at the quirky characters, we smiled at the clever action scenes and together racked our brains to solve the wordplay games layered into the lighthearted story. It's onto the next Perlman's book for my son David and me.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By K. Hamel on January 9, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My son, a reluctant reader (7 years old), enjoyed the story and writing style. He got a kick out of the unconventional chapters and asides to the reader. I thought it was a bit pedestrian, but it was not purchased for me. And the whole family did enjoy some of the longer palindromes.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ann M. Wilkins on May 3, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I have a 7 year old and this was right up his alley! He could not wait to get to the next chapter and I would always stop at a cliffhanger so that by the next night, he could not wait to get ready for bed so he could read more! This book is full of wonderful comedy for a 7 year old! At times, my son was laughing so hard (as was I) that I would have to stop reading until we could get ourselves together! I totally recommend this to anyone who is trying to get their child to read more chapter books and get away from the picture books with short sentences!
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