It’s not often that I’m able to find a children’s book that’s suitable for babies, toddlers and young grade schoolers, but Gideon & Otto by Olivier Dunrea fits the bill. This small book is a big-hearted story about the love between Gideon, and his friend Otto.
Part of the Gossie & Friends book series, Gideon is another addition to Dunrea’s rain boot-wearing family of storybook geese. In addition to reading the book myself, I often will do a test read on some unwitting kids. (They don’t seem to mind being guinea pigs, since I usually provide a snack, and they get some much-needed story time.)
I have to be honest and say that the children that I read “Gideon & Otto” to loved the book, so much so that they insisted on rereads and one little 7-year-old now sleeps with his copy.
There was one hang-up, however, and being the intelligent grown-up that I am, I didn’t want to show my ignorance to the kids. After reading the story and looking at the pictures, I still wasn’t entirely sure what, exactly Otto was. Yes, we knew he was a small Octopus, but was he a friend? ..a neighbor kid?
After the test read, I was reassured when the kids wanted to know what sort of creature Otto was, too. Thankfully, the description on the back of the book set us all straight… Otto is Gideon’s favorite toy. That mystery solved, the storybook tale of Gideon and his love of his favorite toy found its way into our hearts.
Written in an understated way, it’s a funnier, simpler take on the classic boy-loves-toy story, “The Velveteen Rabbit.”
There really are few books for kids out there that manage to be amusing for us jaded adults, especially when considering the age-group Gideon & Otto was written for.
That said, Dunrea had me giggling when I saw the illustrations of Otto when Gideon takes him swimming, because what little boy, caught up in the moment of play wouldn’t let his favorite toy fend for himself? Dunrea has created a charming kid’s book, and we were happy to read it, and I’m happy to recommend it.