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Review: If You Take Away the Otter

Updated: Mar 9, 2022

If you Take Away the Otter by Susannah Buhrman-Deever, and illustrated by Matthew Trueman is a new book set to be published on May 26, 2020. I again was allowed to view an advanced copy of this book, but was not required to review it. This book, for early elementary students, is a non fiction picture book that explores the changes to a kelp forest ecosystem caused by humans hunting the sea otter almost to extinction.

This beautiful book for early elementary aged students focuses on the role sea otters play as the keystone species in keeping kelp forests healthy. Mathew Trueman’s illustrations create a world for the readers to step into as they learn about ecosystems, keystone species and trophic cascade. The text that accompanies these illustrations is written in a simple, age appropriate style, that conveys the science, all the while taking the reader on the journey of a sea otter. Additional information is included within the illustrations to provide more specific details about the concepts being covered. The author has included a bibliography, as well as a page of additional resources including books and websites which allows students to further investigate kelp forests and sea otters. This would be a fantastic read aloud for teachers to introduce ecosystems and keystone species to their students and a great addition to any classroom or home library.

Here is the publisher's summary:

"When the sea otters disappear, why does their kelp forest habitat disappear, too?

On the Pacific Coast of North America, sea otters play, dive, and hunt for sea urchins, crabs, abalone, and fish in the lush kelp forests beneath the waves. But there was a time when people hunted the otters almost to extinction. Without sea otters to eat them, an army of hungry sea urchins grew and destroyed entire kelp forests. Fish and other animals that depended on the kelp were lost, too. But when people protected the sea otters with new laws, their numbers began to recover, and so did the kelp forests. Susannah Buhrman-Deever offers a beautifully written account of a trophic cascade, which happens when the removal of a single element affects an entire habitat. Asides that dig deeper are woven throughout Matthew Trueman’s dynamic illustrations, starring a raft of charismatic sea otters. Back matter includes more information about sea otters and kelp forests, including their importance and current status, the effects of the international fur trade on indigenous peoples, and a list of books and websites for readers who wish to continue to explore."

Link to publisher site to purchase:

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