Listening Library. Sept. 2022. 222p. $28. ISBN 9780593634240.
Gr 3-7–Newbery Medalist Applegate introduces Odder, an orphaned otter pup in Monterey Bay twice rescued by humans, after losing her mother, and after barely surviving a shark attack. “Why try so hard to save/ one little otter?” Otters are among “keystone species.../ they are nature’s glue,/ holding habitats together” by feasting on sea urchins that might otherwise turn ocean floors into “barren wasteland.” Applegate’s exceptionally heartwarming verses are gifted with a full cast (with ending identifying credits!), led by Fraser, whose gentle, thoughtful voice dominates. Each otter is uniquely, vividly embodied, with Luna as Odder; Pean as her friend Kairi; Wu as Odder’s mother Ondine; Carlin and Ojo, respectively, as longtime aquarium residents Holly and Gracie. An author’s note shares facts about the real otters who inspired these fictional furries.
VERDICT With essential lessons in environmental responsibility and human intervention—plus irresistible characters—this one promises broad appeal.

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