Bob and Otto: Friends are important.


Bob and Otto


Picture Book

Ages 2-6

By Robert O. Bruel

Pictures by Nick Bruel

32 pages

Roaring Brook Press




Nick Bruel is a Books of Wonder alum, and the author and illustrator of the wildly popular Bad Kitty books. He’s also written and illustrated many other books and has a clear knack for speaking directly to his audience. I have thoroughly enjoyed all of Nick’s work. His latest book, Bad Kitty School Daze, was just recently released and I have it on good authority that another Bad Kitty book is in the works.

Nick’s father, Robert O. Bruel, wrote this story. Discovered shortly after his father’s passing, Nick adapted it for the picture book audience and created the art to accompany his father’s beautiful tale.

Bruel’s illustrations have a cartoon-ey feel; he uses rich, saturated colors with bright accents and bold edges. He has interspersed double page spreads with pages of panel art—similar to those in a comic strip—an unusual tactic in a picture book that works perfectly here. Four double page spreads are divided horizontally, depicting the divergent activities of our main characters—the top features preparations for a transformative snooze, while the bottom focuses on a subterranean tour.

Bob, a caterpillar, and Otto, a worm, are completely adorable and surprisingly expressive, considering their faces have only little black dots for eyes. (They also have no mouths except in the final spread when little smiles suddenly appear.)


Bob and Otto are good friends. They both like to play in the grass and eat leaves, but when Bob says he needs to climb a tree Otto doesn’t understand and asks why.


‘“Because it’s important.” said Bob.”’

Otto wants to dig into the ground. “It’s important down here too.”

So the two friends part ways. Bob climbs and climbs, Otto digs and digs. Bob eats the fresh green leaves off the tree. Otto dines on leaf litter underground. Bob gets sleepy and wraps himself in a cocoon. Otto digs, until he gets quite sleepy, then he digs some more.


After many days and nights, Bob awakens as a beautiful, yellow butterfly. He flies all around the tree, testing out his new wings. Soon Bob misses Otto and flies down to the ground to find his old friend. Meanwhile, underneath the tree, Otto misses his friend Bob and starts digging his way to the surface.

The friends’ reunion is awkward. Bob has changed. He has wings, and has gained the astonishing gift of flight! Otto thinks maybe he should have climbed that tree too; maybe he would have also grown wings. But instead he’s still a worm, whose only mode of locomotion is crawling.


Bob knows how very important Otto is and explains that it was Otto’s digging that loosened the soil, allowing the rain to reach the tree’s roots, which helped the tree to grow tall and strong, and made it a perfect home for Bob to eat, sleep, and grow wings.


‘“I owe it all to you, Otto,” said Bob. “You’re not just a worm. You’re my best friend.”’

“And friends are important.”


View on Powell’s

View on Amazon

2 Responses so far

  1. 1

    inotherwords910 said,

    I love this. Such a sweet story and such colorful, simple illustrations.

  2. 2

    Such a wonderful message, that everyone has talents that make the world a better place. I’ve loved every book review you’ve done so far. I have a feeling that when I have a kid of my own, his/her library will be very full, indeed! I’ve already bought one as a gift for a non-child, and it was very much appreciated and treasured (The Black Book of Colors).
    So thank you for opening my eyes to all these great books! 🙂

Comment RSS

Comments are closed.

I love kids books

Children's books. My kids, Max and Calvin. Random thoughts connected to books and my kids.

The Belugas are Watching we write, draw, and blog.

Children's Books Heal

Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else. -- Margaret Mead

Pretty Books

One girl's adventures in books, food and travel

Design of the Picture Book

the intersection of graphic design + picture books

David Gaughran

Let's Get Digital


Howdy! We're the largest independent bookstore in Texas. This is our blog.

The Librarian Who Doesn't Say Shhh!

Opening books to open minds.

The Book Wars


This Kid Reviews Books

A Place for Kids and Grown-Ups to Discover Books

Kid Lit Reviews

Honest, Thoughtful Reviews

Loren Long

children’s book illustrator and author

Creative Grove Artist & Designer Market

artist and community festivals in the public space held from 2009 - 2014

Delightful Children's Books

Find a book to delight a child.

Nerdy Book Club

A community of readers

Sommer Reading

A Blog About Books

educating alice

monica edinger, teacher and reader of children's literature

Bobs Books Blog

Childrens and Young Adult Book Reviews by Bob Docherty

Random Acts of Reading

reviews, raves and a random assortment of book buzz

Watch. Connect. Read.

Children's Book Reviews

Book-A-Day Almanac

Children's Book Reviews

100 Scope Notes

Children's Lit

Read Roger

Children's Book Reviews

Children's Book Reviews

%d bloggers like this: