About the Holiday
Otter in Space
By Sam Garton
On Sunday Otter goes to the museum with Otter Keeper and Teddy to see the Space Exhibition. They see a Triceratops skeleton and meet a stuffed bear that must be Teddy’s cousin. On the walls are old paintings made before the invention of crayons, and ancient, interesting things are everywhere.
Otter likes all these exhibits, but her favorite is the room dedicated to outer space—there are buttons to push just like a real astronaut, videos to watch, and a rock that came all the way from the moon. At last Otter gets to go to the gift shop. She loads up her arms with toys, but Otter Keeper says, “One thing only.” The spaceship travels home with them, but Otter and Teddy really want a moon rock too.
The next day while Otter Keeper is at work, Otter and Teddy play with their new spaceship, but it’s just not as fun without a moon rock. Teddy suggests going back to the museum, but no one can drive them. Otter thinks and thinks and suddenly has “the best idea ever!” She and Teddy will blast to the moon and retrieve a moon rock.
Otter makes a very important list of very important things to do. After lunch she builds two space suits and starts training. Although Teddy has some trouble keeping his space suit on and with problem solving, his performance in anti-gravity training is impressive so they move on to constructing the spaceship. With ingenuity and a bunch of household items, Otter builds a rocket and takes it to the Launchpad.
With Giraffe at “mishun control” lift-off is easy, but the moon landing is a little bumpy. Otter’s suit gets torn, but she perseveres and discovers the perfect moon rock nearby. It’s huge! With a little trouble Otter and Teddy transport it back to Earth, where it makes a perfect companion, playing board games and pirates—until Otter Keeper comes home and says it has to go back where it belongs.
The discussion is carried over to dinnertime, and Otter Keeper relents when he sees how serious Otter is in her space suit. If Otter cleans the moon rock she can keep it, says Otter Keeper. But one more restriction has been added to the Otter DO NOT list: dig up moon rocks! That’s okay, though. There are other things to dig up on the moon—like a dinosaur!
Sam Garton’s Otter in Space is a cute, spot-on portrayal of the fantastic ideas kids get when exposed to new concepts or places. Told from Otter’s point of view, the text hits on the serious-yet-humorous observations of kids: the gift shop as the favorite museum “exhibit,” a lingering regret for the toy left behind, and “the best ideas ever!” to correct situations.
Garton’s colorful illustrations of wily Otter and her faithful Teddy as they visit the museum, plan their space trip with the help of Giraffe and other toys, and blast off wearing a cereal box space suit are endearing. Kids will giggle at Teddy’s anti-gravity training in the washing machine. They and their parents will also appreciate Otter’s crafty discovery of the moon rock in the garden and recognize with a laugh his adoption of it as a member of the family.
Otter in Space is a book kids will want to explore again and again and would make a favorite addition to home bookshelves!
Ages 4 – 8
Balzer + Bray, 2015 | ISBN 978-0062247766
National Astronaut Day Activity
Out of This World Tic-Tac-Toe Game
You can launch your own Tic-Tac-Toe Game with this set you make yourself! With just a couple of egg cartons, some crayons, and a printable game board, you’ll be off to the moon for some fun! Opposing players can be designated by rockets and capsules. Each player will need 5 playing pieces.
- Printable Moon Tic-Tac-Toe Game Board
- 2 cardboard egg cartons
- Heavy stock paper or regular printer paper
- Black or gray fine-tip marker
To Make the Rockets
- Cut the tall center cones from the egg carton
- Trim the bottoms of each form so they stand steadily, leaving the arched corners intact
- Pencil in a circular window on one side near the top of the cone
- Color the rocket body any colors you like, going around the window and stopping where the arched corners begin
- With the marker color the arched corners of the form to make legs
- On the cardboard between the legs, color flames for blast off
To Make the Capsule
- Cut the egg cups from an egg carton
- Color the sides silver, leaving the curved section uncolored. (If your egg cup has no pre-pressed curve on the sides of the cup, draw one on each side.)
- Color the curved section yellow to make windows
- With the marker, dot “rivets” across the capsule
Print the Moon Game Board and play!
Picture Book Review
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