Agee, Jon

Otto: A Palindrama

(1) 1-3 Idiosyncratic picture-book creator and consummate wordsmith Agee has crafted a graphic novel pulling together work from several past titles (including Go Hang a Salami! I’m a Lasagna Hog!; Sit on a Potato Pan, Otis!, rev. 3/99; and Palindromania!, rev. 9/02) along with new material to create an altogether original example of sequential storytelling--with a text written entirely in palindromes. Drawn into a daydream by some hypnotic soup, young protagonist Otto suddenly finds himself on a beach. When his dog, Pip, runs off after a human-sized rodent holding a boogie board ("Was it a rat I saw?"), the search begins. Non sequiturs abound, with one surreal scene transitioning to the next, such as when Otto leaves a costumed, ­cat-stacking adult ("Put a cat up!") to meander through a graveyard of cheeky ­gravestones ("So, Ida, Adios!"). Smartly, many of the pages adhere to a fast-moving nine-panel structure, while single pages and double-page spreads serve as visual transitions between scenarios. A muted color palette and thick, sketchy black lines result in an assured cartoon style. The book is immersive and impressively cogent, with Otto returning from his soup-induced reverie to find himself back at home, yet readers will be left wondering whether things are actually as they appear. Acknowledgments credit the creators of palindromes not composed by Agee while also citing his friendly rivalry with fellow palindromists as a source of inspiration for the book. Simply put...WOW!


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