Sometimes it's hard being clean, especially if you happen to be a pig. Otis is a neatnik born into a family of slobs.

Fastidious and finicky about his appearance, Otis somehow manages to keep his silky hair, pink skin, and dainty hooves unmarred by mud. Although he is a very fine pig, as author/illustrator Janie Bynum states, Otis is a little pig with a big problem. Making friends isn't easy for Otis he is lonely. All the other pigs love to play in the mud; getting dirty doesn't seem to bother them. They revel in it, but Otis hates the stuff.

While his brothers wallow in the mire, enjoying a rowdy game of rugby, Otis sits alone on the sidelines and keeps score. When his sisters play tag in the muddy mess, he spends his time counting buttercups in the grass.

His mama and papa seek to console him by saying, Someday, Otis, you will like the mud. I don't think so, Otis replies. He can't imagine ever enjoying mud oozing from around his hooves, or unsightly dried mud patches marring his pink body. To Otis, these are dirty, dirty thoughts! Then one day Otis meets Little Frog crying beside the mud wallow. Little Frog has a big problem his favorite ball went splat in the middle of the mud. Otis doesn't see the difficulty. He thinks Little Frog should simply go after his ball since frogs love mud and all things swampy. But not this frog! He begs Otis to wade in and get his toy because pigs love mud and all things sloppy. It's a moment of truth and humor as these two neatniks work together to avoid any contact with the mud, solve the problem, and become friends in the process. Janie Bynum's pen-and-ink and watercolor illustrations bring the characters to life and fully convey the dirty dilemma Otis faces before he finds his froggy friend. Background note on the author/illustrator: Rumor has it that she made a mean mud pie when she was young and has avoided mud ever since.

Karen Elley is a writer and humorist who tries to keep it clean.

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