cover image Baby Sea Otter

Baby Sea Otter

Betty Tatham, , illus. by Joan Paley. . Holt, $16.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-7504-5

Tatham's (Penguin Chick ) animal science book here zooms in on a sea otter mother and her offspring to reveal a host of fascinating facts about this ocean-going mammal. "The mother otter blows air bubbles into her pup's brown fur, where they will be trapped between the top layer of long hair and an under layer of very thick fur. This helps keep the pup warm." Each page offers a similarly interesting detail, covering a range of topics from anatomy to hunting and dining. Paley's (Unbeatable Beaks ) bold collage artwork, cut from hand-painted and textured papers, illuminates the pages and brings this underwater world to life. Against swathes of bright turquoise and aquamarine ocean backdrops, the brown otters lazily float in kelp beds. Their rounded, scratchboard-textured bodies give them a cuddly appearance. Under the water, however, the animals transform into sleek gray swimmers diving for food or evading predators, their fur dappled with wavy patterns of light in greenish hues. This straightforward tale offers several mini-climactic moments that present the animals' predators (e.g., birds, sharks, even other otters). At one point, a male otter kidnaps the pup, holding her for ransom ("He will not release the pup until the mother gives him the food she has in her pouch"). An endnote offers additional facts about these sea-faring cousins of the weasel. This accessible book comes full circle when the baby otter grows up to have a pup of her own. Ages 5-9. (Oct.)