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.

Book review: Orangutan Orphanage, by Suzi Eszterhas

Eszterhas, Suzi. Orangutan Orphanage. Owlkids Books, 2016.  $18.95. ISBN 9781771471411. 43 pgs. Ages 7-10. P8Q8

eszterhas-orangutan-orphanageSuzi Eszterhas both wrote and took the photographs for this book. She provides a good introduction (written at a level that will be accessible to lower level readers, but rich enough in information to keep higher level readers engaged)  to the orangutan rescue facility in Borneo- readers learn how and why orangutans become orphaned in Borneo, what the facility does to help prepare youngsters for their return to the wild, and along the way, quite a lot about this endangered species. The photographs are beautiful and do a good job of communicating the unique personalities of the orangutans, and how they interact with and learn from with their “foster-moms,” people from a local village who have been trained in their care. I liked the author’s stress on the emotional lives of the babies- being orphaned is very traumatic and has a long lasting impact on them, as with people. This focus will make an impact on young readers who, I think, will feel a connection. The last pages of the book contain information on how readers can help wildlife and orangutans in particular, a Q/A page, a glossary and an index. This is the second book in the Wildlife Rescue series.

Verdict: Young readers will find this book very engaging with its sweet photographs and sad topic, and would fit in well other books on endangered species and conservation.

November 2016 review by Carol Schramm.