cover image Odder


Katherine Applegate, illus. by Charles Santoso. Macmillan/Feiwel and Friends, $16.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-250-14742-4

Writing in exquisitely descriptive free verse, Applegate (Willodeen) delivers an uplifting tale of an inquisitive sea otter pup raised by scientists after being separated from her mother. Released back to the ocean, curious Odder spends her days reveling in her ability to “twist/ and pretzel and weave.” Despite warnings to “be afraid of the world,” the otter’s adventurous nature lures her and a cautious friend, Kairi, into deeper waters, where they encounter an adolescent great white that lands Odder back with the people who raised her. Brief chapters that mimic the feel of each creature’s movements capture both the meal-focused musings of the hungry shark—a “soundless ocean ghost” stalking prey—and the playful naivete of Odder (named because of “the way/ the little pup never settled,/... the way/ her eyes were always/ full of questions”). Though humans make cameo appearances in this edifying novel about otter life, the focus remains rightfully on its enigmatic star: a lovable otter who not only survives against the odds but thrives. Occasional art by Santoso (Wombat Underground) highlights the adorable protagonists. An author’s note details the story’s roots at California’s Monterey Bay Aquarium. Ages 8–12. Author’s agent: Elena Giovinazzo, Pippin Properties. (Sept.)