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Thursday, January 5, 2017

Sea Otter Rescue, written and photographed by Suzi Eszterhas. Owlkids, 2016. $18.95 ages 7 and up

"All young pups at the center are kept in the intensive care unit. They sleep, rest, and play in cozy playpens, where they are safe and secure. The playpens are the same kind used for human babies. In the wild, a sea otter pup would rest on its mom's fuzzy belly ... "

Suzi Eszterhas follows the design style chosen for her very popular Orangutan Orphanage (2016) and Koala Hospital (2015) to bring readers the story of the work that the staff at the Alaska SeaLife Center does to protect and rehabilitate orphaned otters.

Having seen otters in the wild as a child, they hold a special place in her heart. Only when she visited the SeaLife Center did she actually see one up close and personal. Her admiration for their caregivers led her to share their story.

"All the workers have one thing in common - they love marine animals. From microscopic animals that drift in the ocean, to huge, elephant-sized walruses, the Alaska SeaLife Center cares about them all. And when marine animals in Alaska need to be rescued, team members do an incredible job of saving and helping them."
She goes on to describe (and show with her clear and endearing photographs) just exactly how the staff manages to bring them to Seward where their care is of prime importance to all. The pups are challenging to raise and to prepare for life beyond the center's walls. The staff is highly trained and work extremely hard to create an environment similar to their natural surroundings.

We learn a lot about otters themselves:

"Sea otter moms are devoted mothers, and their pups are completely dependent on them ... Their mothers feed them, keep them dry and warm, protect them from danger, and teach them the skills they need to survive."

That is a lofty goal when considering how to ensure an orphan's health and strength to live on its own. These tiny creatures are in danger and their continuing care is critical if they are to flourish.

The design has great appeal for young readers wanting to know as much as they can about the fluffy babies. Each two page spread is given a heading that describes its focus, a few short and informative paragraphs, and a captioned (and very appealing) photograph. Readers are encouraged to learn more about otters and the conservation efforts that help to ensure their survival. She also gives tips on making a small difference in our own ways. Included in back matter are questions for Suzi from her readers. As well, she adds a glossary, an index and a source list.

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