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Cover image for Otter play
Otter play
1st ed.
Publication Information:
New York : Atheneum Books for Young Readers, ©1998.
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 26 cm
A child watches otters at play and mirrors their behavior.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 2.1 0.5 46259.
Added Author:


Call Number

On Order



A child, with his parents in their drift boat on the river, watches the river otters at play. While the parents cast their lines, the otters swim and dive, fish for their own meal, and watch the small boy watching them. This is a joyous celebration of the lives of these appealing and playful animals, and of the day and night a child and his parents spend together, close to nature. Anna Vojtech's lively and colorful illustrations capture perfectly the joy of watching river otters pursue their daily activities.

Reviews 5

School Library Journal Review

PreS-Gr 2ÄSeated in his parents' small fishing boat, a little boy observes an otter family swimming, diving, and eating. The spare text sets some nice parallels between the child and the animals: "Crunching bones,/the otters eat/while I munch/on an apple." The device is comfortably revisited rather than a constant, forced pattern. Some of the passages focus solely on the activities of the mother otter and her three pups: "Bellies plump,/otters loll/upon a sunny log./They wash/their fishy whiskers/clean." The river venture is portrayed in softly shimmering watercolors, sometimes in pairs of facing single-page scenes, and most often in full double-page spreads featuring the playful animals, the nearby family, and pretty mountain scenery. Vojtech uses a particularly attractive framing device, surrounding the pictures with images of water and fish or plants and sky. This layering of foreground and background deepens the perspective, providing viewers with much to savor. Phrased as congenial blank verse, the text offers a felicitous array of words for reading aloud or independent enjoyment. A nighttime scene brings the day to a satisfying close, and the final page adds a bit of factual explanation about otters.ÄMargaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

A quietly lyrical text and warm watercolors fairly dance as the rhythms of a child's day on the river echo those of an otter family. From their meeting in early morning, when the child launches his boat as the otters slide waterward from their muddy burrow, to their parting at day's end, when the boy crawls into a sleeping bag and the otters "curl together in a dark, warm ball," this tale delights in the simple, often strikingly similar activities of humans and otters. Luenn's (Mother Earth) assured text reflects both respect and relish for otterplay. Vojtech (Ten Flashing Fireflies) creates a cozy ambiance through softly lit scenes of plump figures surrounded by rolling hills and rising riverbanks. Framed vignettes detail such natural wonders as bunchberry, trout, mud tracks or dragonflies, while double-page spreads of landscapes reveal a larger perspective. This memorable encounter whisks readers away on a frolic, but quietly lulls them back for bedtime. Ages 4-8. ( Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Horn Book Review

A child on a camping trip with his parents watches an otter family that lives along the river. Human and otter activities parallel each other as they stretch, fish, eat, wrestle, and dream the day away. The detailed watercolors and their borders express the otters' playfulness and the observant narrator's appreciation of the natural world. An author's note about otters concludes the book. From HORN BOOK Fall 1998, (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

In a brief text, Luenn (Mother Earth, 1992, etc.) explores the parallels between a family of humans and a family of otters a few yards away who mimic each other through a peaceful day on the river, fishing, enjoying a meal, swimming, horsing around, settling down for the night. In framed, slightly misty watercolors, Vojtech artfully poses the two groups on facing pages: child and otter stretch identically, splash with the same verve, wrestle with a parent, then snuggle, one in a sleeping bag, the other in a burrow, to dream. The otters' play of expressions may be anthropomorphic--especially on the book jacket, where they look as if they are laughing--but their gestures and postures, like the lightly detailed setting, are natural and accurately depicted. A playful, inventive way of connecting young viewers to the natural world. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

Ages 3^-7. Camping by the river, a little boy and his parents observe a family of otters. As the otters catch and eat trout, the boy munches on an apple. As they tumble over one another on the riverbank, the boy and his father wrestle on the sand. As the otters curl up to sleep in their burrow, the boy snuggles into his sleeping bag for the night. Just as the rounded forms of riverbanks, ripples, rocks, otters, and people seem to echo each other in the watercolor paintings, the parallel actions of the otters and the child show a satisfying symmetry as well. Gently shaded forms, precisely drawn yet softened at the edges and suffused with sunlight, contribute to Vojtech's appealing vision of the story. This picture book will please those who read it aloud and savor the sounds and rhythms of the words. --Carolyn Phelan