About the Holiday
Established in 1953 by the International Federation of Translators, today’s holiday celebrates the translators in every language who work to break down barriers and bring great literature to all people across the globe. Everyone’s story matters, and it is through access to a wide range of books that readers acquire deeper understanding of the commonalities and unique experiences that make us all citizens of the world. For children in bilingual and multicultural homes the ability to read and hear books in their native tongue as well as their adopted language is especially comforting and promotes greater literacy and language learning. With eight bilingual editions available, today’s book is a great example of the importance of translators’ work!
Good Night, Little Sea Otter
Written by Janet Halfmann | Illustrated by Wish Williams
As twilight paints the sky pink, purple, and gold, Little Sea Otter gets ready to sleep in her kelp forest bed. Mama Otter fluffs her baby’s fur and snuggles with her, but Little Otter is still wide awake. “‘I forgot to say goodnight to the harbor seals,’” she tells Mama. The baby waves her “soft, silky paw toward the rocky shore” and says goodnight. The harbor seals all along the craggy cliffs wish the little otter goodnight in return.
Hearing the seals’ goodnight song, the sea lions join in, their loud barks echoing in the air. “‘Good night, father sea lions. Good night, mother sea lions and baby sea lions,’” Little Otter calls. Curious about all the commotion, a seagull swoops down and learns that it’s bedtime for Little Otter. The two say “Good night” to each other, and as the seagull flies away to find his own place to sleep, Mama Otter tries to tuck in her little pup.
“But before she could say another word, Little Sea Otter dipped her furry face into the chilly water.” There she sees a whole ocean full of fish to greet. She says “Good night” to the yellow fish, the orange fish, and the purple fish. Of course she can’t forget the long fish or the short fish, the striped fish or the spotted fish either. All these fish are happy to wish the tiny pup sweet dreams too. Mama Otter points out other sea creatures getting ready for bed—different types of crabs, snails, sea stars, anemones, clams, and more. Little Otter says “Good night” to each in turn.
From every part of the ocean sea turtles, lobsters, octopi, rays, jelly fish, sea horses, eels and others bubble a chorus of “Good night” to Little Otter. She listens and responds to each one and then asks Mama if she has forgotten anyone. “‘Yes, you did,’” Mama says, “scooping her up in her paws. ‘You missed ME!’” Little Otter giggles and says “Good night.” Mama Otter hugs her tight and rolls over and over in the kelp, wrapping them both “in ribbons of seaweed” that will keep them secure on the ocean currents as they sleep.
Little Otter gazes up into the night sky and says “Good night” to the moon and the stars. As Little Otter’s eyes finally close and she drifts into sleep, Mama kisses her gently on the head and the sea whispers “‘rock-a-bye.’”
Janet Halfmann’s gentle bedtime story is a sweet reminder for children of all the people in their life who love them and are thinking of them every day. As Little Sea Otter puts off sleep with just one more “Good night” and then another and another, Halfmann reveals with lyrical language the wide world of the sea and the creatures in it. The readiness of the ocean creatures to respond with their own heartfelt wishes for the little pup suggest that this is a nightly and eagerly anticipated ending to each day by all.
One might imagine that in addition to “Good night” Little Otter’s nightly repertoire includes the request to be told all the names of the fish and sea animals, just as children love to look through pictures of family and friends and learn their names. Mama’s patient support of her pup’s curiosity and connections to her world provide tender moments between mother and child, as do their final bedtime rituals before drifting off to sleep.
Wish Williams’ beautiful, vivid illustrations are stunning and detailed, offering a magical realism that is perfect for this book’s wide-eyed audience. Little Otter and her sea creature friends are adorable, their smiling faces glowing with their happiness to see each other and finish the day together. While the fish and other sea creatures are colorful, the hues are true to their natural counterparts. The blue-green ocean swirls and foams along the rocky shore at twilight while whitecaps glitter in starlight when the sun goes down.
Little Otter’s repeated phrase of “Good night” gives children plenty of opportunities to read along. Kids and adults who enjoy the beach and marine environments will also be delighted in the scientific facts about sea otters organically sprinkled into the text. The lovely nature of the mother/child relationship, opportunities for child participation, and gorgeous art make Good Night, Little Sea Otter a welcome addition to home bookshelves for quiet story times and bedtime.
Star Bright Books also publishes Good Night, Little Sea Otter in eight bilingual editions. For information on each click on the links below:
Ages 2 – 6
Star Bright Books, 2010 | ISBN 978-1595722546 (English Edition)
Learn more about Janet Halfmann and her other books on her website!
International Translation Day Activity
We Are All Family English/Spanish Word Search
Sleepy Sea Otters Coloring Page
Say “Good night” to these sweet sea otters before going to bed by coloring this printable Sleepy Sea Otters Coloring Page.
Picture Book Review