Beaver and Otter Get Along...Sort of: A Story of Grit and Patience Between Neighbors

Dawn/Sourcebooks eXplore/. Sept. 2021. 40p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781728232249.
K-Gr 2–When a family of river otters moves into the cozy habitat beavers help create, frustration and irritation abound for the beaver family. While the beavers work hard, the river otters seem oblivious to this and play in the water, eating crayfish. These two species have a commensal relationship, which means the beavers’ work helps the river otters, but the river otters don’t help the beavers. Collard’s story is biased in favor of the industrious beaver, as when he describes how the river otters dig holes in the frozen stream. This necessitates the beavers’ need to patch the holes up, without explaining the otters likely dug the holes to eat; crayfish is a major part of their winter diet. Collard establishes the river otters as nuisances with no purpose. Anthropomorphizing is a slippery slope when sharing nonfiction regarding animals, and it backfires in this story. Sodano’s mixed media art, dominated by brilliant watercolors, creates a stunning world of wonder and is the crowning glory of this piece. Extensive back matter includes further information about both animals, connections to SEL, how to read the book for engagement, and STEM sources.
VERDICT An additional selection for libraries where nonfiction materials on animals are popular.

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