Debut Author, Picture Books

Oliver’s Otter Phase by Lisa Connors

When I was a young child, my favorite animal was penguins.  I loved going to the zoo and watching them waddle, swim, and eat fish.  In Oliver Otter’s Phase, after visiting the aquarium.  Oliver becomes so fascinated with sea otters that he spends the next day mimicking otter behavior as he performs daily tasks.  For example, Otter puts his bologna on his chest at lunch because otters use their bodies as a plate.  When his dad places him in the shopping cart seat at the grocery store, Oliver gives his dad a long green string because otter moms tie their babies with kelp to prevent them from getting lost.  Oliver’s parents are supportive of his preoccupation with otters except when he attempts to eat hot spaghetti on his chest!  By the end of the story, Oliver’s interest in otters begins to wane but he still wants to be otter-like in one special way-snuggling with his mom.

As a reading specialist, I am always looking for quality picture books to read to students and share with teachers.  Author Lisa Connors has written an engaging text that will keep students interested, for young children will be able to easily relate to Oliver and his animal antics.  Teachers will love how Connors weaves facts about otters on every page and Karen Jones’ illustrated snapshots visually capture otter natural behavior.

After reading aloud, I could see students writing in the style of Connors by researching an animal and writing a narrative which would compare and contrast the animal and a human’s behavior.  An added bonus to Oliver’s Otter Phase is backmatter that provides a detailed definition of marine mammals, a T-chart comparing and contrasting otters and humans, additional otter facts, and even a matching activity comparing how Oliver and an otter use tools, which are all permissible to photocopy.

Disclaimer: Beagles and Books received a copy of Oliver’s Otter Phase in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.  It was released in February 2018.

About the Author and Illustrator: 

LisaConnors.jpgLisa Connors spent her childhood exploring fields and catching frogs in a nearby stream. No frogs were harmed in her adventures; she would build them a raft and set them floating back down the stream. Her love of nature lead her to obtain her BS in Medical Technology and two Masters, one in Environmental Studies and the other in Teaching. Now she shares her love of science and nature through writing. While she has long written nature essays, Oliver’s Otter Phase is Lisa’s debut picture book. Lisa lives in a home called “Halcyon” with her family, accompanied by their Redbone Bluetick hound, two cats, and lots of wildlife for Lisa to encounter and learn about. Visit her website at

Lee_KarenAward-winning illustrator Karen Jones began her career as a storyboard artist and editorial illustrator but it wasn’t until she had children of her own that she discovered her true artistic passion: children’s illustration. In addition to Oliver’s Otter Phase, Karen has illustrated Midnight Madness at the ZooOne Odd DayMy Even Day and My Half Day for Arbordale. She has also written and illustrated ABC Safari. Karen and her family live outside of Raleigh, NC. Karen’s children join her on many research trips to museums, zoos and aquariums-a tough job, but someone has to do it! Visit Karen’s website.

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