for When Otis Courted Mama by Kathi Appelt and Jill McElmurry
Cardell “had a perfectly good mama and a perfectly good daddy.” His coyote family’s perfection is marred only slightly by the facts that Cardell’s daddy lives in a different part of the desert and Cardell has to “share him with his perfectly nice stepmama, Lulu, and his perfectly cute stepbrother, Little Frankie.” But Cardell doesn’t have to share his mama with anyone. Then Otis shows up, “holding a handful of ocotillo flowers in one paw and a bag of cactus candies in the other. Cardell felt a grrr form in his throat.” Otis isn’t the first hopeful beau to court Mama. But Mama isn’t sending Otis on his way like she did the others. In time, Cardell discovers Otis has his strengths: he can whip up a delicious prickly pear pudding and demonstrates impressive pouncing skills. Eventually, Cardell’s stubborn grrr evaporates. Not long after, Cardell is able to count on Otis as a perfectly good stepdaddy. The challenges of changing family structures are sympathetically embodied here, while regionally specific details in text and illustrations and perfectly patterned language lend depth and finely tuned humor. Honor Book, 2016 Charlotte Zolotow Award (Ages 4–8)
CCBC Choices 2016. © Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2016. Used with permission.
Apart from sticker burrs and sand fleas, Cardell's life is mostly wonderful. He knows he's loved through and through by his perfectly good mama and his perfectly good daddy. They live in different parts of the desert, but that's okay-Cardell is mostly used to it. Then Otis comes calling, and Cardell feels a grrr form in his throat. Otis can't make jalapeño flapjacks or play Zig-the-Zag anything like Cardell's daddy. And so Cardell waits for Mama to say "Adiós, Otis." But what will happen if she doesn't?
Publisher description retrieved from Google Books.