I Am Otter

Book review by
Regan McMahon, Common Sense Media
I Am Otter Book Poster Image
Adorable otter makes a mess in fun friendship story.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Shows a bit about what it takes to run a (play) restaurant: For example, cook but don't burn the toast, take reservations, and let customers know the prices of the food. 

Positive Messages

It's fun to play pretend and create your own fun. Clean up after you make a mess playing. When you're stuck at home, it helps to have a good friend with you. If you're mean to your friend, you may feel bad afterward.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Otter is fun-loving, caring, and creative, though she does tend to blame others when things go wrong. Otter Keeper is kind and patient. Inanimate Teddy is a loyal companion.

Violence & Scariness

Otter gets a little mean when she fires Teddy for getting toast orders wrong and forgetting to take reservations and gives his job to Giraffe. But she then reflects on her behavior when Teddy is missing and regrets having been mean to him: "I'd been so mean to Teddy, he'd probably run away to start a new toast restaurant with someone else." 


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Sam Garton's I Am Otter is a fun picture book inspired by his popular British website I Am Otter. The story is narrated by the self-entertaining Otter, who makes a mess creating a toast restaurant for her stuffed-animal friends while Otter Keeper (the man who has kept her as a pet since he was a boy) goes off to work. Otter is great at imaginative play with her best friend, Teddy (a teddy bear), and her other stuffed-animal friends. She tends to blame others for the trouble she causes (first Teddy, then Giraffe) but feels bad after she's been mean and learns how important her friends are. It's pure silly fun and a great reflection of childhood behavior, with wonderfully engaging illustrations and adorable Otter at the center of the action. 

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What's the story?

Otter introduces herself to the reader and shows how her life is full of fun and imaginative play with her best friend, Teddy (a teddy bear), and Otter Keeper, the boy who got her when she was a baby and eventually grew into a man with a job. Otter misses him on the weekdays, so when Monday rolls around she tries to prevent him from going to work by throwing his alarm clock into the fish bowl and eating his lunch. But he still manages to go, and, while he's away, Otter comes up with activities and pretend games involving Teddy and the other toys. She makes a big mess when they open a toast restaurant for the stuffed animals, and, when Otter Keeper comes home, she tries to blame the mess on Teddy but discover's Teddy's missing. After a thorough search, she finds him, calm is restored, and Otter learns how important her friends are. Then she starts to blame things on another stuffed animal, Giraffe.

Is it any good?

I AM OTTER is a delightful story that mirrors imaginative childhood free play and childish self-centeredness in the adorable, irresistible Otter. British author Sam Garton developed the exuberant character on his popular website, I Am Otter, which led to the book. 

The classic look of Garton's colorful illustrations matches the classic approach to kid fun in which Otter engages. She speaks directly to the reader, so kids can easily connect with her. Kids will love her exuberant attitude -- she's always up for anything -- and creativity. She's never bored, because she can always make up a game to play or project to do with her stuffed-animal friends. And kids will enjoy being a bit more savvy than Otter and spotting how her schemes will backfire before she does. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about playing pretend. What's fun about playing school or store or restaurant? What's your favorite pretend game? 

  • Why do kids like books about funny animals so much? Which do you like better: books about animals or people? 

  • What do you like about Otter? Can you imagine having an otter as a pet? 

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love picture books and animal stories

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