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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
Otto in the City
by Tom Schamp
Age Range: 6-8
Otto and his father are driving to the city and the reader can travel with them as they manoeuvre their small car amongst the hustle and bustle of dense traffic. There's so much to see on the road, with all manner of crazy modes of transport, funny characters and a landscape of buildings in all shapes and sizes; even some in the shape of a thermos flask and a ruler.
This unusual book has a unique road loop system that encourages the reader to turn the book upside-down so that the previous top half of each illustration is now right side up. Now, they can travel back home with Otto and his Dad as they negotiate new or the same neighborhoods, parks, buildings and traffic.
Belgian author and illustrator Tom Schamp’s artwork teem with offbeat details, each page offering a visual feast. There are subtle jokes such as a TV with ‘SOAP’ written across the screen, a lookalike Van Gogh picture of Sunflowers growing out of the pavement into a picture frame and there are references that adults will appreciate too: the unmistakable image of a Tomato Ketchup bottle with ‘Slow Food’ Drive In written underneath together with an image of a ‘Ham Burger’; an Irish Pub, Chanel No 5 perfume becomes ‘No 5 Canal’ and a shoe shop with a customer carrying a bag labeled ‘Choux Shoes’. There is a reference to the Beatles with a sign for ‘Abby Road’; pictures of modern art with names like “Pablo” and “Andy” underneath; a reference to the ‘Tom and Jerry’ cartoon.
This sturdy, large-format book with card pages is so densely packed with details that children will never tire of looking at the illustrations because there is always something new to discover.
Schamp has illustrated over 20 books for children. Otto in the City is his first book published in English and not before time, as this will surely become a firm favourite with children and adults alike.