Book review: Pup 681: A Sea Otter Rescue Story, by Jean Reidy, illustrated by Ashley Crowley

Reidy, Jean. Pup 681: A Sea Otter Rescue Story. Illustrated by Ashley Crowley. Henry Holt and Company, 2019. ISBN 9781250114501. Unpaged.  P6Q6

A sea otter pup has washed up on the shore, and she is hungry, cold, and lonely. Found by a girl on a surfboard, wearing an Aquarium Staff hat, the otter is taken to an aquarium to be cared for. The text strives to come across from the otter pup’s point of view, but often feels odd. For instance, when the sea pup is feeling afraid and alone she wonders if the sun will leave her too. Also, certain pictures left me uncertain of the story line. For instance, on one double page spread the pup is being rescued by the surfer in the Aquarium Staff hat, the next page shows a VW Bus on the road, passing a sign that says “Aquarium 2,000 miles”, turn the page once more and they are on the steps of a large aquarium. I felt like more of the story needed to be portrayed here. The illustrations of the otter, in soft pastels, lacked the details that make otters so cute. At the end of the story the true story that the book is based on is told. Maybe if that had been at the front of the book the story would have come together more for me.

Verdict: The true story behind the book is good, but the narration and the illustrations could be improved. Children who have visited aquariums will recognize the pictures, including the end papers, and animal lovers will appreciate the backstory.

June 2019 review by Denyse Marsh.