Pup The Sea Otter

Pup-the-Sea-Otter-240x300I didn’t love Pup the Sea Otter, by Jonathan London (West Winds Press) as much as I wanted to, perhaps because I felt it left many unanswered questions. While it references Pup being wrapped in kelp so he doesn’t float away, it doesn’t describe how this is done. It mentions a pocket under the the otter’s forearm, but doesn’t describe what exactly that is–and because this is intended for young, literal thinkers, I felt this was also warranted. Finally, at 8 months old, Pup seems to miraculously go from living with his mother to other males, with no explanation as to how  or why.

Other places, I found the text charming and child-appropriate “He’s too buoyant and pops back up like a rubber duck!”

London’s son, Sean, did a wonderful job with the illustrations. Pup is portrayed as a cutie-pie with kid appeal. The colors are vibrant. I wish we were shown a “raft” of other mothers and pups, so we could know what that is like.

Back matter delves into the value of and threats to sea otters, but overall this book feels thin. While the Author’s Note mentions pollution being the biggest current threat to sea otters, none of that comes out in the story. No mention is made of sea otters as keystone species. Despite these things, skilled interpreters could use this book as a jumping off point when engaging children about these animals.

Ages 4-8

Grades Pre-K – 3

32 pages



Book Review: All Ears, All Eyes

all-ears-all-eyes-9781481415712_hrAll Ears, All Eyes, (Atheneum) by Richard Jackson and illustrated by Katherine Tillotson is a special book. Every page of it is a gorgeous, with vivid, blurred color and hidden images–an analogy for the wild world. The rhyming text contains interesting and unexpected rhythms. It focuses, briefly, on many nocturnal animals–owls, bats, raccoons, flying squirrels and more. The text is lovely:

Comes a breeze–they bend and bow–and behind these, beyond those deep in the dark, near to brimming now, Nature’s ark glows…

I wonder, though, if this is more a book for adults than children. Yes, it is gorgeous. Yes, it conjures images in our minds, (though that’s hardly necessary, given the visuals here) but what does it teach children about the natural world?

This is a book that begs to be poured over again and again, so that children can find the abstracted animals on the pages, and listen to the beauty of language. It would be wonderful in the home–a terrific bedtime read. In a teaching setting, it could be paired with another book about nocturnal animals–perhaps this one to follow another, so that children know what is being referred to in this book, given what they have learned in a previous one.  Regardless of how it’s used, it’s an undeniable treat for the eyes and the ears that nature lovers will embrace!


Ages 4-8

Grades Pre-K – 3

40 pages