The overall concept for Otis Grows was dreamt up not by the author or illustrator, but by Kathryn Hast's dad. Over a BLT sandwich one afternoon, he described a weird dream that he'd had the night before. In the dream, there were chickens with boxing gloves, called the Nuh-Uh-Uhs, and they were fighting with flowers who wore boots, called the Yes-Indeedy-Dos. Kathryn penned the first draft of Otis Grows inside a Father's Day card as a joke in 2010, but did not seriously look into finding an illustrator until April of 2016. Over the years, some characters evolved, and some were added, but it all began with boxing gloves and boots. 

Cast of Characters:

Otis Grows

As the son of a chicken and a flower, Otis feels like he doesn't fit in. Almost every kid at some point will feel the same way, and especially when families are having growing pains, it can be difficult to know where to turn or what to believe. Otis represents the many layers of development that is required with every stage of aging, and he challenges us to consider what would happen if we cut to our core.


They squawk. They push. And they often resist, but so do all reformers. The Nuh-Uhs want what most of us do: to see the world around us change for the better. Their methods may be flawed, but they have courage and heart. Even in the wake of failure or loss, the Nuh-Uhs show us the value of persistence. They may never fly, but they always will flap. They will try.

We all know a Yes-Chum because there are so many of them. And there are so many of them because we fundamentally need structure, tradition. The Yes-Chums supply the kind of lasting comfort that is conditional to caution and planning. If they seem stern, it's because they've learned to be, and readily. The Yes-Chums look at each other and see success, which, they believe, is the ultimate goal.
It's not possible that a talking rock will show up and problem-solve, but that's the point. Obviously, a crystal denotes healing properties and clarity, but beyond that she functions as a fundamental source solace, as a story-teller. We tell stories to learn lessons, and for this we can explore what might otherwise be magical or crazy. Crystal is, in literary terms, a deus ex machina, but she also represents literature itself.

For local Asheville libraries and schools: If you would like to request a free book, please email with the EIN of your 501c3, and we will mail you a title of your choice.


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