Fern and Otto

Fern and Otto, A Story About Two Best Friends
Written and illustrated by Stephanie Graegin
Published 2020

This is a story for kids (and grownups) who like stories – reading stories or telling/writing stories or all of the above.

Fern and Otto are best friends and live together in their tree home. Fern decides to write a story about they like to listen to music and take naps in the sun. Otto thinks they need more adventure in their lives so the two friends take a walk into the woods in search of adventurous situations that Fern can add to her book.
All sorts of happenings surround them, but while Fern wants to stay and participate Otto always wants to push forward to bigger adventure until it gets to be too much even for him.

This is a book of Easter eggs for the reader of stories. There are references to fairy tales and fables all over the book. A missing gingerbread man, a girl with three bowls of porridge, a boat with an owl and a pussycat in it, and many others. You can spend as much time (or more) on the art as you do with the words to search for all the little story references.

It’s adorable art to look at, too. It’s finished digitally, but it retains the lovely softness of the original pencil drawings.

I love the friendship in this story and Fern’s dedication to making something for herself and Otto.
I also appreciated how Fern doesn’t make a perfect story on the first go. Even on the second try she throws away the pages that don’t fit and she celebrates when it goes well. It’s a helpful example for children who feel too overwhelmed by the desire to “make it right” to start new projects or continue with one that’s giving them trouble.

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