Otter Goes to School

Book review by
Regan McMahon, Common Sense Media
Otter Goes to School Book Poster Image
Otter plays teacher, gains confidence in reassuring tale.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Shows the kinds of things that go on at school, from math and music class to story and nap time to gold stars and parent-teacher conferences.

Positive Messages

Everyone is good at something -- you just need to find out what that something is. School is a place to learn things and have fun. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Otter is fun-loving, imaginative, and kind. Otter Keeper is understanding and supportive and helps Otter feel better and more secure when he's around. 

Violence & Scariness
Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Otter Goes to School is another book in Sam Garton's I Am Otter series, about an adorable Otter who lives with her Otter Keeper and plays with her toys (stuffed animals and a robot) in imaginative ways. This time, she decides to create a school for them at home, with her as teacher, so they can learn to be as "clever" as Otter Keeper. A fine choice for kids heading to kindergarten that will acquaint them with school routines and ease their jitters about other kids being better at school subjects and activities than they are.

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What's the story?

In OTTER GOES TO SCHOOL, Otter hears that to be "clever," you need to go to school and learn things. So while Otter Keeper is at work, she sets up a school for her toys and dives into her costume box and emerges as "the best teacher ever." She puts on her "friendly teacher face" and leads them in math, music, story time, and lunch, giving out gold stars for high achievement (even to herself). But when Teddy feels sad that he isn't as good at things as the other students, Otter waits to have a "parent-teacher meeting" with Otter Keeper when he gets home. Once they move into art class, Otter begins to feel better -- and so does Teddy. 

Is it any good?

By expressing her own fears and anxieties through the inanimate toys around her, Otter gets a handle on her feelings in this reassuring tale about playing school. Give her a gold star for emotional intelligence.

Otter Goes to School reinforces the joys of imaginative play while also giving young kids a glimpse of classroom routines. It's perfect for little ones heading off to kindergarten who might worry that other students will be better at things than they are. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Otter Goes to School shows in a fun way the kinds of things that go on at real school. What's similar? What's different? 

  • Otter feels bad that Teddy doesn't like school because the other students are better than him at everything. Have you ever felt that way? 

  • Do you ever play school at home? What's more fun, playing student or teacher? Why?

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