April 23 – World Book and Copyright Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-good-night-little-sea-otter-cover

About the Holiday

Sponsored by UNESCO, World Book and Copyright Day encourages families and individuals to rediscover the joys of reading and promotes the availability of a wide range of books in all languages and for the disabled. It is also an opportunity to highlight the power of books to promote our vision of knowledge societies that are inclusive, pluralistic, equitable, open and participatory for all citizens. Each year publishers, booksellers, and libraries choose a World Book Capitol for a one-year period. This year Conakry, Guinea was selected in part “on account of the quality and diversity of its program, in particular its focus on community involvement.”

You can get involved too! Why not start today? With so many amazing books to discover, reading daily is a luxury worth indulging. For kids, there may be no cozier or more comforting routine than snuggling up next to mom or dad or cuddling under the covers and getting lost in a wonderful story before falling asleep.

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.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-good-night-little-sea-otter-mama-fluffing-pup's-fur

Image copyright Wish Williams, text copyright Janet Halfmann. Courtesy of starbrightbooks.org

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.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-good-night-little-sea-otter-harbor-seals

Image copyright Wish Williams, text copyright Janet Halfmann. Courtesy of starbrightbooks.org

From every part of the ocean sea turtles, lobsters, octopuses, 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.’”

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.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-good-night-little-sea-otter-all-ocean-creatures

Image copyright Wish Williams, text copyright Janet Halfmann. Courtesy of starbrightbooks.org

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. 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. 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.

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.

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.

Ages 2 – 6

Star Bright Books, 2010 | ISBN 978-1595722546 (English Edition).

Star Bright Books offers Good Night, Little Sea Otter in bilingual editions in 8 other languages. To view them click here.

Learn more about Janet Halfmann and her other books on her website!

World Book and Copyright Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-sleep-sea-otters-coloring-page

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

June 12 – National Rivers Month

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-otters-love-to-play

About the Holiday

Rivers are beautiful, provide recreation, and are crucial to our water supply. Did you know that in the United States 65% of our drinking water comes from rivers and streams? This month environmentalists and others promote awareness of the importance of keeping the nation’s rivers pollution free to protect the fish and animals that call them home and increase enjoyment for all. To help the cause, join a volunteer river clean-up crew, help monitor water quality, or learn more about your local river system. Whether you like to fish, swim, boat, or just laze on the bank, June is the perfect month to get out on a river! You might even see some otters—the subject of today’s book!

Otters Love to Play

Written by Jonathan London | Illustrated by Meilo So

 

It’s spring and two otters have moved into an abandoned beaver lodge to start a family. In a soft nest of moss, leaves, and grass the mother otter gives birth to three pups. The pups first open their eyes to the world when they are five weeks old. At two months old they’re ready to come out of the den to play. Playtime is fun, but for the baby otters it’s also work. Running, twisting, wrestling, and matches of tug-of-war teach valuable hunting skills and solidify family bonds.

As spring turns to summer, the pups’ thick waterproof coats grow in, and it’s time for swimming lessons to begin. There are no floaties here! The mother otter simply grabs her charges by the scruff of the neck and drops them into the river. Their mother shows them how to dive and glide and come to the surface as they follow her single file. “Within days, the otter pups gracefully spin and flip and swish like underwater acrobats.” Again and again “they scramble up a mud slide and SLIIIIIIIIIIIDE back down to the water—Ka-Spash!”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-otters-love-to-play-in-autumn

By the end of the summer the pups know how to catch small fish and how to nudge out frogs, crayfish, turtles, and snakes from their hiding places among the rocks. Autumn brings more opportunities for fun as the nearly full-grown pups tumble in the fallen leaves. Even winter’s blasts don’t deter the otters. With their thick fur they roll in the snow and catch fish in the icy river water.

But an ominous shadow appears on the fresh snow as the pups belly-slide down a snowbank. Something is waiting and watching…. So too is mother otter. Screaming and hunching she “slides across the snow and with a terrible GRRRROWL…scares the fox away!” Throughout the winter the otters snuggle in their den, and when the rainy spring makes muddy river banks, the otters come out and speed down the slippery slide “because otters love to play!”

You can’t help but love otters. Watching them dive, swim, and frolic just puts a smile on your face. And what’s more these sleek river creatures are fascinating animals! Jonathon London has written a story that captures the spirit and exuberance of one otter family while incorporating intriguing facts about their dens, birth statistics, purposeful play, hunting techniques, protective fur, predators, and defenses—did you know that otters can slide on snow at speeds up to 18 miles (29 kilometers) per hour?! London’s lyrical journey through the first year of an otter’s life makes captivating reading for young children just navigating the world themselves.

Meilo So’s enchanting otter family will delight readers. Images of the pups somersaulting, sliding, splashing, and swimming charmingly depict the sleek, supple movements of these frisky animals. Their smooth coats, rendered in soft browns with white and black accented texture, and their mischievous, ever-present smiles are realistically portrayed, inviting kids to reach out and pet them. So’s river scenes are beautiful—the pale blue water reflects deep gold and green trees, pink and yellow wildflowers and delicate green grasses flutter along the river bank, and the depths of the underwater world swirl with muted sage greens and blues as the otter pups frolic among gray- and olive-hued fish. Autumn comes with fiery orange and purple leaves, and winter falls shivery white as the russet fox is chased away.

Otters Love to Play would be a lovely gift for any child and a welcome addition to any classroom or school library.

Ages 4 – 8

Candlewick Press, 2016 | ISBN 978-0763669133

Visit Jonathan London’s website for more books by this prolific author.

View more books and art by Meilo So.

National Rivers Month Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-otter-coloring-page

Otter Coloring Page

 

You “otter” love this coloring page, with its cute river creature who has just caught dinner! You can color it with pencils, crayons, or markers or consider making a collage with bits of paper, cloth, or leaves and sticks. Give the otter a den to snuggle in and a river for frolicking! Here’s your Otter Coloring Page!