by Kip Noschese
Inside Jacket: Otto is a bear with a unique talent for racing cars. It’s a talent that requires drivers to be fearless. Otto has only one fear. A great fear—BEES! When he crosses paths with some very smart bees that love racing as much as he does, he might need to overcome his fear if he wants to win.
Opening: Just outside of Orvieto, Italy, is where Otto learned to drive. He became a stunt driver in the circus under the guidance of “The Great Vittorio.” Otto had no fear of driving fast. His only fear was an extreme one—bees!
About the Story: Otto, a bear, was a circus bear. He persuaded Vittorio to restore his old racing car so Otto could race in real races. In otto’s first race he was doing great until . . . rocks came tumbling down from a ledge, forcing the driver ahead of Otto to swerve. In response, Otto quickly swerved, lost control, and slammed into a tree. Race car number 2 was a mess. The front of the racer ruined, the grate busted, and the tires now hung precariously inward. “Blasted Gaskets!” Otto exclaimed. A swarm of bees began to circle Otto. He ran. The bees had plans of their own.
What I Thought: When I first saw this book, I could not believe the quality. It is a beautiful book. The printing is nice, and the book has a matte dust jacket. I do not often get picture books with dust jackets from self-publishers. Otto & the Grand Prix Bees is a well-designed book is from front to back. Boys will love this story of a racing bear and the bees that turn him into a winner. The action scenes have the feel of a fast moving car.
The illustrations are grand. The detail in the background is nothing less than astonishing, as it should be. Mr. Noschese has made backgrounds for the Rugrats, The Wild Thornberrys, Dinosaur Train, and Family Guy. He has taken that experience and turned it into a wonderfully illustrated picture book. Those that collect picture books for the illustrations should look at Otto & the Grand Prix Bees. I think you will see the same dynamic backgrounds—adding depth to beautifully detailed foreground illustrations—as I have. The one thing I did not like, and maybe this is not important, but in young children’s books, the word “and” needs spelled, rather than using an ampersand.
I like that the race is in Italy. Italy as the setting gives the book a feeling of authenticity, similar to those races I have watched on television, except there were no circus bears driving any of the racecars. Otto has a fear of bees. Strange for a bear—don’t bears crave honey and willingly put their paws into beehives looking for the sweet treat? Otto has run as fast as possible to get away from bees. He learns that his fear is unfounded and that the little bees are valuable for more than honey. First, they encourage him to fix the crashed racecar and then they help supply the necessary energy to zoom past the other cars, helping Otto grab his first checkered flag! Otto & the Grand Prix Bees is a winner. The bees are terrific, too!
Young racing fans will have a harder time damaging the pages when Otto crashes, as the pages are thicker than most other picture books. This is the perfect book for young boys who enjoy cars and racing.
Released July 2013
Ages: 4 to 8
© 2013 by Kip Noschese, used with permission
Text & Illustrations copyright © 2013 by Kip Noschese
DONATED TO A LOCAL PUBLIC LIBRARY OR SCHOOL