Photojournalism tells the true story of Rialto, a rescued baby sea otter, along with many scientific and historical facts about sea otters.
Readers of Jean Reidy’s poetic, almost mystical, picture book Pup 681: A Sea Otter Rescue Story, illustrated by Ashley Crowley (2019), can seek out Mapes’ book for more facts about these critters. The text begins with simple sentences about the eponymous baby otter—named for Washington’s Rialto Beach, where he was stranded—but soon offers much more information than a tale of rescue and rehabilitation. By the text’s third page, readers have learned these facts: Normally, babies stay close to their mothers; they have “very loud voices so their mothers can hear them over the wind and waves”; sea otters are legally protected. The next page includes a full paragraph about baby sea otters’ dependency on their mothers, then a second paragraph that lists the babies’ predators and states that their survival rate in the wild is 50 percent. By the time Rialto is thriving in the Seattle Aquarium (prior to a permanent move to the Vancouver Aquarium), readers have learned about sea otter diet, fur, teeth, habits, and more. Before Rialto moves, there are 10 paragraphs and a map devoted to the otters’ human-caused, near extinction and their human-aided comeback. The clever truth: Less-motivated readers can view each of the numerous, oh-so-cute-and-cuddly photographs, then read their detailed captions to get the story’s condensed version.
Calling all sea otter fans! (sources) (Nonfiction. 7-10)