Attributing human characteristics to animals, a waning trend in modern animal stories, has been replaced by a more naturalistic camera-eye approach. Arthur Catherall, who divides his interests between boys' adventure tales and realistic animal portraits, provides the reader with an inside glimpse of the otter's world. His ""camera"" focuses briefly on how Kee-on was orphaned, then proceeds to follow the baby otter through his many attempts to survive a wood crowded with peril. The balance between the animal's natural defense mechanisms and the dangers he encounters wavers as Kee-on struggles against the vicious attack of a weasel and later, a wolverine. On both occasions, other creatures intervene at crucial moments -- a fact which stretches credibility. As in all of these authenticated animal stories, there are many fascinating details about the creatures of the wood and the precarious lives they lead, but Mr. Catherall's portrait lacks the dramatic power that can carry the reader breathless through each episode.