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by Linda Stanek ; illustrated by Shennen Bersani

Pub Date: Sept. 22nd, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-64351-751-3
Publisher: Arbordale

A river otter plays guide in this informative picture book that’s part guessing game, part adventure.

Realistic paintings dominated by greens and blues introduce an otter pup as she scrambles up a riverbank and wanders into a zoo. There, both readers and otter meet various animals as the latter contemplates each and decides which she’d like to emulate that day. With each speculation, a different basic river-otter attribute, such as whiskers or claws, is introduced. It might be fun to dig like a naked mole rat, for instance, but the otter would miss her “fuzzity-fluff fur” that keeps her warm and dry…like a musk ox, the next animal. In-depth information and a comparison with sea otters are found in backmatter. Each animal is illustrated with minimal anthropomorphic qualities, and action words in large, capitalized text describe their actions. When the otter mimics the tiger, the words used are “POUNCE / ROARING / SILENT / STALKING,” offering chances for children to act them out. Inconsistency in the parts of speech and verb forms presented is a significant weakness. The repetitive format will soothe younger children and build confidence in older ones. The introduction of exotic animals among more-familiar ones adds variety. Some readers might see the river otter’s journey as a support of identity play and self-acceptance; others can simply indulge in all the ways to act like animals. (Due to Covid complications, this book will publish in paperback on pub date and in hardcover in Jan. 2021.)

Cute and playful, like its featured critter.

(Informational picture book. 4-8)