Anna and Otis
Maisie Paradise Shearring
Imagine befriending a snake. Not keen probably, but snake, Otis is the unlikely best friend of young Anna and the two spend happy, adventurous days together safe in the confines of the garden.
One day though, Anna announces to Otis that tomorrow they ought to go exploring the town, a suggestion that leaves Otis lost for words. After all neighbours and delivery people tended to tread very cautiously when they spied the reptile, so an entire town, Hmmm!
Nevertheless, next day, Anna having attempted to allay Otis’ concerns, the two sally forth.
Anna’s words however are very soon proved wrong: seemingly everyone in the town gives the impression of being as she’d put it earlier, ‘very silly mean’ people.
Inevitably, Otis is sad; Anna angry, though she tries to be reassuring. Bravery and direct approaches are her suggestions, first stop being Silvio’s hairdressing salon. The visit proves a success and word starts to spread.
Emboldened Anna purchases a skateboard for herself and a set of wheels for Otis.
Pretty soon, people at the skate-park are impressed at his wheelie prowess; the bush telegraph springs into action again and come lunch time it’s more of a party than a meal for two.
By the time the day’s over the friends are very tired. Anna invites Otis to spend the night and thereafter the friendship continues apace, sometimes just the two of them but on other days it’s a trip into town to visit all their wonderful new and very welcoming pals.
In her funny tale of overcoming fears and gaining acceptance, with gently humorous illustrations full of wonderful details to delight and linger over, the author portrays an unusual friendship that should, if not endear readers to Squamata such as Otis, at least help overcome their angst about them.
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