Monday, January 12, 2015

BLOG TOUR w/ GIVEAWAY: When Otis Courted Mama by Kathi Appelt


Apart from sticker burrs and sand fleas, Cardell’s life is mostly wonderful. He knows he’s loved through and through by his perfectly good mama and his perfectly good daddy. They live in different parts of the desert, but that’s okay—Cardell is mostly used to it. Then Otis comes calling, and Cardell feels a grrr form in his throat. Otis can’t make jalapeño flapjacks or play Zig-the-Zag anything like Cardell’s daddy. And so Cardell waits for Mama to say "Adiós, Otis." But what will happen if she doesn’t?


Kathi Appelt’s perfectly wonderful stepfather was a terrific storyteller, and she grew up to become a teller of stories, too. She is the New York Times best-selling author of more than forty books for children and young adults. Her picture books include Oh My Baby, Little One, illustrated by Jane Dyer, and the Bubba and Beau series, illustrated by Arthur Howard. Her novels for older readers include two National Book Award finalists: The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp and The Underneath, which was also a Newbery Honor Book. In addition to writing, Ms. Appelt is on the faculty in the Masters of Creative Writing for Children and Young Adults at Vermont College of Fine Arts. She lives in College Station, Texas. To download a free, CCSS-aligned curriculum guide, visit or Kathi’s website at


There are surprisingly few picture books that deal directly with blended families.  I was pleased to hear about this one, although a little startled at the use of coyotes as the main characters.  But after having read the book, I ended up really liking the portrayal of Cardell and his families.  Appelt does a beautiful job of showing the strengths of both his biological parents and his stepparents.  Stepparents are often stereotypes and portrayed as the enemy.  Cardell does at first see Otis as the enemy because he doesn't want to share his mother.  But it was interesting to see Otis's patience in using his own strengths to win Cardell over. McElmurry does a fun job with the illustrations which highlight not only the story but the unique desert setting. The book is a really cute and sweet way to address the theme of stepfamilies and that things can still be good even when things don't work out the way we think we want.



Curriculum Guide
Activity Pages


1 print copy of When Otis Courted Mama
US only

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1 comment:

  1. Gad, what a great trailer for a great book. Love the twang!


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