Otis Goes to School
Ashley Nicole Bramlett
(Ashley Nicole Bramlett, March 24, 2014)
Revealing and putting his unfortunate past behind him, lovable family dog, Otis, cautiously noses under a flood-ravaged fence plank, and completes a family with his unconditional love and contagious personality. The gentle mother and father care deeply for their children's playful pet. The toddling baby boy is his daily entertainment, perpetually ready with giggles and cookie crumb snacks. The only girl is a precious pixie, pirouetting through the grass, always crowning Otis her most honored guest at backyard tea parties. And the oldest boy-the tall, responsible, smart, athletic big brother-well, he is Otis's champion, his biggest fan, his best friend. Summertime's tree house capers, creek splashing, hide-and-seek and hammock-lounging all come to an end when the Crows announce the arrival of Fall, and thus, the routines of School Days. Daring curiosity and sincere concern tempt Otis to his greatest adventure to find out what the older two of his three favorite children do in the classroom all day... everyday. Making the trek to School to check things out for himself, Otis discovers the lively playground where imaginations abound and creativity blooms between the swings and slides. He peaks through classroom windows, observing patient teachers opening doors to the boundless world of reading. He is mesmerized by paint-tipped brushes recreating Monet's masterpieces, and startled by small, symbol-clad hands crashing together to announce the finale to the elementary school's version of Beethoven's melodious marvels. He is enticed by his hungry, growling tummy to swipe baked chicken nuggets and buttery cornbread crumbs that fall to the floor from the fingers of chatty children in the lunchroom. Avoiding being caught just long enough to sneak a dreamy nap underneath cushy pillows in a quiet corner of the library, Otis awakes to the familiar, loving face of his best friend. Relieved to be found (again), and happy with his discoveries of the epiphanies happening at school, Otis gains an even greater appreciation for his cherished home, satisfied at last with the School Days interruption of his time with the three most beloved children in his world. Luring the reader with all five senses, Otis's viewpoint advantage brings alive the scent of Laurels and sounds of the scurrying Squirrel. The taste of jelly and taffy on fingertips is tantalizing. A new forever friend is revealed in Otis's reflection in the pond. The tickling of his fluffy fur and the coolness of his wet nose are as real as the true inspiration for his character. Stretching the realm of vocabulary and descriptive words, the playground zephyrs, lunchroom cacophony and sleepy shenanigans of one valiant dog all come together with the purpose of adding and nurturing a sixth sense for the reader: imagination.