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The OTTER Award

Announcing the 2023 OTTER Award Nominees

WLA's OTTER Award committee is excited to announce the 2023 OTTER Award nominees!

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  • Starla Jean (Starla Jean, book 1) by Elana K. Arnold, illustrated by A. N. Kang (Roaring Brook Press / Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group)
  • Monster and Boy (Monster and Boy, book 1) by Hannah Barnaby, illustrated by Anoosha Syed (Square Fish / Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group)
  • Max Meow Book 1: Cat Crusader by John Gallagher (Penguin Random House)
  • Missed Meal Mayhem (The Hunger Heroes, book 1) by Jarrett Lerner (Aladdin / Simon & Schuster Publishing)
  • The Alien Adventures of Finn Caspian #1: The Fuzzy Apocalypse by Jonathan Messinger, illustrated by Aleksei Bitskoff (Harper / HarperCollins Publishers)
  • Trouble at Table 5 #1: The Candy Caper by Tom Watson, illustrated by Marta Kissi (HarperChapters / HarperCollins Publishers)

Please check back soon for more information along with soon-to-be updated materials (bookmarks! videos!) for the 2023 nominees.

The goal of the OTTER Award is to highlight titles that are both engaging and developmentally appropriate for readers transitioning into chapter books. With a motto of “books kids like, not books adults think kids should like,” student feedback is utilized when selecting the nominees. A maximum of six titles are selected each year. Voting occurs in May, and the results are announced in June.


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Cover image of Sparks! by Ian Boothby, illustrated by Nina Matsumoto

Sparks! by Ian Boothby, illustrated by Nina Matsumoto

Sparks is a hero and man's best friend, but nobody suspects he's two cats! This Super Dog is the Cat's Meow! August is a brilliant inventor who is afraid of the outside. Charlie is a crack pilot who isn't afraid of anything. Together these pals save lives every day. They also happen to be cats who pilot a powerful, mechanical dog suit! Always eager to leap into danger, this feline duo have their work cut out for them as they try to thwart Princess, an evil alien bent on enslaving mankind. Don't let the fact that Princess looks like a cute, diaper-wearing baby fool you. She's clever, determined, and totally ruthless. So when Princess and the browbeaten fools she calls servants enact a brilliant and dastardly plan to conquer Earth, August and Charlie pull out all the stops to save the day.

Thank You from Ian Boothby

Ian Boothby is an Eisner Award winning writer known for his work as the lead writer on The Simpsons and Futurama comics. Boothby currently writes cartoons for The New Yorker and MAD Magazine with Pia Guerra, as well as writing and co-creating Exorsisters for Image Comics with artist Gisele Lagac.

Nina Matsumoto is an illustrator and first generation Japanese-Canadian born in Vancouver, BC. She currently designs video game merchandise and apparel while drawing award-winning comics on the side.

Announcing the 2020-2021 WLA OTTER Award Nominees

The OTTER Award – Our Time To Enjoy Reading – is sponsored by the Washington Library Association: School Libraries Division. Established in 2015, the committee is pleased to announce the 2020-2021 nominated titles.

View the 2021 nominees as presented during the WLA 2020 Conference, with links to videos, bookmarks, printables, and more!


  • Sparks!  by Ian Boothby, illustrated Nina Matsumoto (Graphix by Scholastic)
  • Didi Dodo, Future Spy: Recipe for Disaster (Didi Dodo, Future Spy #1) by Tom Angleberger, illustrated by Jared Chapman (Amulet Books)
  • Truman the Dog (My Furry Foster Family, book #1) by Debbi Michiko Florence, illustrated by Melanie Demmer (Capstone Publishers)
  • Isle of Misfits 1: First Class by Jamie Mae, illustrated by Freya Hartas (Little Bee Books)
  • Mia Mayhem is a Superhero! by Kara West, illustrated by Leeza Hernandez (Simon & Schuster)
  • Stealing the Sword! (Time Jumpers, book #1) by Wendy Mass, illustrated by Oriol Vidal (Scholastic Branches)

Wendy Mass thanks the OTTER Committee


2020 OTTER Award Winner

WLA's 2020 OTTER Award goes to Mr. Wolf's Class by Aron Nels Steinke.

Mr. Wolf has just started teaching at Hazelwood Elementary. He wants the first day of school to go well, but he's got his hands full with his new class. Some of his students include: Margot, who is new in town and is trying to make friends. Sampson, who brought something special to school for show-and-tell. Aziza, who just wants everyone to be quiet and do their work. And Penny, who is VERY sleepy because she has a new baby brother at home, goes missing! This delightful new series captures the everyday -- and unexpected -- ups and downs of a fourth-grade classroom.

Aron Nels Steinke is the Eisner Award-winning coauthor (with Ariel Cohn) and illustrator of The Zoo Box. He’s a second- and third-grade teacher by day, and a cartoonist by night. He lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife and son.


2020 OTTER Nominees

WLA's OTTER Award committee is excited to announce the 2020 OTTER Award nominees:

  • Two’s a Crowd (Pug Pals #1)  by Flora Ahn (Scholastic)
  • Mac Undercover (Mac B., Kid Spy #1) by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Mike Lowery (Scholastic)
  • Rosie Revere and the Raucous Riveters (The Questioneers, book #1) by Andrea Beady, illustrated by David Roberts (Amulet / Abrams)
  • Meet Yasmin! by Saadia Faruqi, illustrated by Hatem Aly (Picture Window Books / Capstone)
  • Rabbit’s Bad Habits (Rabbit & Bear, book 1) by Julian Gough, illustrated by Jim Field (Silver Dolphin Books / Hachette Children’s Group)
  • Mr. Wolf’s Class (Mr. Wolf’s Class #1) by Aron Nels Steinke (Graphix / Scholastic)


2019 OTTER Award Winner

WLA's 2019 OTTER Award goes to GAME OVER, SUPER RABBIT BOY! (PRESS START! #1) by Thomas Flintham.


This year, over 7,400 students across the state read and voted for the award!  We thank you for reading and voting, and we hope you enjoyed the nominees.

A breakdown of our votes:

2019 OTTER Award Nominees

Don't Forget! Voting for the 2019 OTTER Award is open until May 10, 2019.  

Any student who has read 2 or more books is eligible to vote, regardless of grade level.  

  • Catstronauts: mission moon by Drew Brockington (Little, Brown)
  • Dragons and Marshmallows (Zoey and Sassafras) by Asia Citro, illustrated by Marion Lindsay (The Innovation Press)
  • Game Over, Super Rabbit Boy! (Press Start!) by Thomas Flintham (Branches/Scholastic)
  • Jasmine Toguchi, Mochi Queen by Debbi Michiko Florence, illustrated by Elizabet Vukovic (FSG / Macmillian Kids)
  • March of the Mini-Beasts (The D.A.T.A. Set) by Ada Hopper, illustrated by Sam Ricks (Little Simon / Simon & Schuster)
  • Dolphin Rescue (Animal Planet Adventures) by Catherine Nichols , illustrated by James Burks (Liberty Street / Time Inc. Books)

We thank you for supporting transitional readers by sharing these titles with students and look forward to announcing another winner next May.

2018 OTTER Award Winner

The OTTER Award Committee is proud to announce The Bad Guys: Episode 1 by Aaron Blabey as the winner of the 2018 OTTER Award for transitional readers.

In its second year, 5,500 students across WA state read & voted for their favorite nominee. The Bad Guys: Episode 1 received 2,024 votes.