Otto thinks: Rabbits have strange quirks. For instance, his sister will only wear red shoes and his best friend always has on his blue roller skates—even in bed at night! Otto believes he needs to have his own quirk, so he decides he is only going to eat carrots. Carrots and nothing else! He consumes them at breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even, snack. He loves them fried, baked, raw, and cooked. Not to mention that there are lots of delicious recipes—carrot soup, carrot pizza, and, of course, carrot cake. His friends and family become worried with his obsession with this vegetable which even induces him to imagine daily items made with it—airplane, house, rocket, boat, and more. Slowly, Otto begins to take on some of the characteristics of carrots, like carrot-shaped ears! At school he is teases and harassed, so he decides to give up his obsession for carrots. The spirited rabbit decides he only wants to eat spinach now—strained, baked, fried. Why? Because Spinach is the best!
Otto Carrotto was originally a popular book in Austria, which has just been introduced in America (May 2011). The book provides us a glimpse into the European style. Before my Art of the Picture Book course, I would have probably overlooked this title. It does not fit into my narrow view of a good picture book. I like cute and cuddly with a side of a good lesson or witty, ironic ending. I viewed this selection from a revised lens though. Instead, I recognized Otto Carrotto as a slice of life—a look into the mind and experience of a preschool aged child. This age group often becomes obsessed with something whether a food, a super hero character, or a favorite game. They are also quick to change their minds and be sensitive to peer influences. Author Chiara Carrer realistically captures this energetic transitional stage. Another noteworthy aspect of the book is the illustrations. They are a combination of rough sketches, collage, drawings, and paint accents. They reflect more the imperfect artistic world of a small child rather than pristine realm of the adults. Dramatic emotions and playful activities are depicted often in a hodgepodge layout. Unlike many popular books, Otto does not learn a lesson like how to be moderate and balanced. Few children do after a first misstep though. Instead, he quickly moves on to another passion. The narrative, illustrations, and ending all reflect back an authentic child experience. I recommend Otto Carrotto for ages 3-7 as well as for people who enjoy a distinctive and genuine picture book experience