When Otis Courted Mama

by Kathi Appelt and Jill McElmurry

Newbery Honor winner Kathi Appelt and best-selling illustrator Jill McElmurry (Little Blue Truck) offer an endearing, accessible picture book about accepting a new step-parent and appreciating everything that makes one's own family special.

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN-13/EAN: 9780152166885
  • ISBN-10: 0152166882
  • Pages: 40
  • Publication Date: 01/06/2015
  • Carton Quantity: 44

About the book

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?

About the author
Kathi Appelt

Kathi Appelt is the author of many books for children and young adults, including When Otis Courted Mama, illustrated by Jill McElmurry; Oh My Baby, Little One, illustrated by Jane Dyer; and the story collection Kissing Tennessee. Her novel The Underneath was a Newbery Honor book and a National Book Award finalist. She lives in Texas. www.kathiappelt.com

Jill McElmurry

Jill McElmurry was the illustrator of many picture books, including her own Mad About Plaid, When Otis Courted Mama by Kathi Appelt and the best-selling Little Blue Truck series, written by Alice Schertle. She happily divided her time between the wide landscape of New Mexico and a green island in Minnesota. Jill passed away in August 2017.


* "This excellent take on modern, blended families melds a believable, resonant story arc and winsome, child-appealing illustrations." 

Kirkus, starred review 


"McElmurry's...gouache illustrations revel in the desert setting, her homey paintings evoking the look of weather-beaten folk art while contributing to the story's overall humor and sweetness." 

—Publishers Weekly 


"Like Otis, Appelt is a gifted storyteller, and families whose circumstances echo Cardell’s will welcome this gentle story, which is nicely augmented by illustrator McElmurry’s gouache pictures, with their vivid desert colors." 



* "Well, like Otis, this exquisitely told tale is a welcome addition to any collection." 

School Library Journal, starred review 


"Author and illustrator deliver on both substance and humor, capturing childlike emotions and conveying them in witty, comforting prose and in accompanying pictures of coyotes in bandanas and ten-gallon hats...With a sympathetic and charming main character, this story will be particularly relevant for a child with a blended family."