Have you ever visited the Monterey Bay Aquarium? It’s one of my favorite spots as it’s only a short drive away from my community. Did you know that they have a program in which rescued otters are paired with otter pups so they can learn survival skills? In Odder, readers are introduced to a young otter who finds themself on a brand new adventure after surviving a shark attack. Read on for a book review of Odder by Katherine Applegate, published by Macmillan.
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Meet Odder, the Queen of Play:
Nobody has her moves.
She doesn’t just swim to the bottom, she dives-bombs.
She doesn’t just somersault, she triple-doughnuts.
She doesn’t just ride the waves, she makes them.
Odder is a young sea otter growing up on the Central Coast of California. Odder is curious, enjoys watching kayakers and despite the warnings of her mom and friends, gets close to humans to observe their behaviors. While visiting with a friend, Odder survives an attack by a young shark and finds herself at the Monterey Bay Aquarium rehabilitating.
We learn a bit more about Odder and her mother Ondine, in a flashback that occurs after Odder is attacked by the shark. Ondine warns Odder of the perils of open water and works to teach Odder survival skills like hunting and grooming. A brutal storm separates Odder and Ondine and it turns out Odder has been at the Monterey Bay Aquarium before when she was separated from her mother.
Flash forward and Odder’s recovery at the aquarium goes well until she is placed in an otter tank with a baby pup. Confused, Odder isn’t sure what to do until she begins to remember her time in the aquarium where she continued learning how to dive, forage and survive. Eventually Odder bonds with the pup teaching them to play, dive and forage for food.
Odder is written in free verse which is a poem that doesn’t rhyme or have a regular meter. Each poem moves the story along leisurely as Odder explores her home which is very near the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The poems move between the shark narrating to Odder, and then the aquarium staff.
Many of the poems are so beautiful in their simplicity, and experiencing the world through the eyes of a wild sea creature is fascinating. It’s so relatable that Odder fears being a mentor or mother to another pup since she didn’t heed her own mother’s advice and almost became a meal for a shark.
Odder is a wonderful and unique read that will make readers cheer for a little otter who has the drive and curiosity to mentor other otter pups.