Saturday, August 22, 2009

Ottoline and the Yellow Cat

Biblio Bits Ottoline and the Yellow Cat by Chris Riddell, MacMillan Children's Books, 2007 (ISBN 9780061448799)

Reading Level/Interest Age 760 lexile, ages 8-11

Genre Humorous mystery

Plot Summary
Ottoline is a privileged young girl who lives with her Norwegian bog creature, Mr. Munroe (small and hairy, a bit like Cousin Itt from the Addam's Family), while her parents travel the world collecting unusual things and sending postcards. When Ottoline and Mr. Munroe discover that small lapdogs and jewels are disappearing around Big City, they quickly formulate a plan to investigate. They uncover a crime ring headed up by a cat burglar (who is actually a cat) and a tricky plot to steal jewels from unsuspecting wealthy ladies. Mr. Munroe goes undercover and, with the help of Ottoline, the two make a plan to foil the crime ring.

Critical Evaluation
Though not a graphic novel per se, this book has Riddell's illustrations on every page which could be a great hook for reluctant readers. Although the mystery is fairly light and there is not a lot of text, the detailed and funny graphics (maps, postcards, annotations, etc.) enhance and add depth of pacing and emotion to the story.

Reader's Annotation
Thumb through this one and I dare you to not get hooked into the story by the amusing illustrations in black, white, and red. Ottoline and Mr. Munroe are on the case of the missing jewels in Big CIty.

Author Information
Chris Riddell is an award-winning illustrator and political cartoonist who lives in Brighton, England with his wife and three children. He has collaborated with Paul Stewart on the Edge Chronicles and the Far Flung Adventures series for children. (The information for this brief biography was obtained on the author's website on August 22, 2009.)

Challenge issues
Probably none, but I suppose absentee parenting, bears that talk, and mysterious and fantastic creatures from Norway might offend some.

Booktalking Ideas
This book would be great in a booktalk on mysteries, one that highlights books with a graphic component, or nontraditional storytelling methods.

Curriculum Ties
Not a lot of content to work with here, but Ottoline and the Yellow Cat is definitely a story that exhibits creative problem solving skills. One fun option could be to find an action sequence in another book and then "map" it out, similar to the very funny illustration that highlights the action of the climactic capture.

Why this book?
Just the right amount of silly mixed with a mystery along with those fun graphic details makes this book a great choice for a reluctant reader or a low-skills reader. Particularly for a young (emotionally or physically) tween, this title looks and feels like a chapter book without being very challenging in terms of content, complexity, or length.

Yes, more Ottoline books to come! Next up: Ottoline Goes to School (2009).

Maine Student Book Award Reading List 2009-2010

Rockport Public Library owns?

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