An abandoned baby sea otter is rescued and sent to live out her life in an aquarium—where she learns the deepest meaning of “family,” in this tale inspired by a real-life rescued otter pup.
“When the moon slipped under the mist and the sun began to burn through, a tiny one opened her eyes.” These poetic words are on the recto of a double-page spread of a pale, watercolor seascape. At the left, an immediately appealing, dazed-looking brown sea otter sits draped in seaweed. Over the next two pages, there are four more depictions of the baby, in equally adorable positions, lessening the sting of her plaintive situation. She appears near death when, in driving rain, a young woman shows up and gently bundles her into a blanket, calling the otter Pup 681. The tale is told in third person, but most of it is through the supposed thoughts and even dreams of the otter, who at one point feels so lonely she sickens. Her unnamed, sweet-faced rescuer, a woman of color, again revives her, and a fascinating otter fact is cleverly revealed. The gentle humor of the artwork and the descriptive, sometimes-rhyming text combine with excellent layout to create a compelling tale. If the ending words were describing a human’s lesson learned, they would seem mawkishly sentimental; because the lesson applies to Pup 681’s “tiny otter heart,” they simply provide appropriate closure. An author’s note and a smattering of otter facts follow.
Unabashedly adorable. (Picture book. 4-7)