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SEABABY by Ellen Levine


by Ellen Levine & illustrated by Jon Van Zyle

Age Range: 4 - 8

Pub Date: March 13th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-8027-9808-4
Publisher: Walker

A baby sea otter tells the story of his rehabilitation after a storm separates him from his mother.

Lifted and examined in a place of strange smells, the little otter gradually relaxes into the care of humans. After he being fed from a bottle, he is placed in a gently moving pool that rocks him to sleep. Within several days, he meets his new mother. This adoptive mom teaches the baby the skills he will need in order to feed himself. Ending with his ocean release, readers leave him tethered in seaweed and fast asleep among a group of other otters. Backmatter includes a list of Web and print resources, as well as a final note that serves to fill in the human side of the baby otter’s rescue. This fascinating note describes the Monteray Bay Aquarium’s stranded–sea otter program and how it has changed and improved based on the research scientists have done on the animals already released. As does the text, Van Zyle’s acrylics keep the point of view with the baby otter. He is large and central to the illustrations, while the humans are reduced to either onlookers or purple latex gloves. It's a shame the science described in the author's note was not more incorporated into the text, but that is a small quibble.

This gentle and moving portrait of animal rehabilitation stands out for its unusual, animal-centric point of view. (Picture book. 4-8)