Pup the Sea Otter

Pup the Sea Otter


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National Science Teachers Assoc. Outstanding Science Trade Book and National Outdoor Book Award winner.

Watch Pup grow from his birth to first dive and from rambunctious play with other sea otter pups to a frightening encounter with a predator.

Bestselling author Jonathan London tells Pup’s story in sparse, poetic text with vivid vocabulary while luminous illustrations by London’s son, Sean London, bring the adorable Pup and his loving mother to life within the swirling sea around them.

London’s newest creation in his picture book collection about baby animals (including The Seasons of Little Wolf, Little Puffin’s First Flight, and Honey Paw and Lightfoot) will entertain children with a combination of learning and fun. An author’s note at the end shares fascinating facts about this popular keystone species.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781513262840
Publisher: West Margin Press
Publication date: 08/13/2019
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 32
Sales rank: 782,168
Product dimensions: 7.70(w) x 9.80(h) x 0.30(d)
Age Range: 5 - 8 Years

About the Author

Jonathan London has written more than one hundred picture books for children, many of them about wildlife. He is also the author of the popular Froggy series. He lives with his wife in northern California. www.jonathan-london.net.

Sean London received a BFA from CalArts in Character Animation and has done animation for Disney. He has also collaborated with his father on the Aaron’s Wilderness series: Desolation Canyon, Bella Bella, and Grizzly Peak.

Reading Group Guide

Pup the Sea Otter, Written by Jonathan London, Illustrations by Sean London

Spread 1 (pg. 2-3): On the first day of spring, off the coast of California, the sun bursts out from behind a cloud . . . and a baby sea otter is born!

Spread 2 (pg. 4-5): Pup the Sea Otter—a fluffy ball of fur with eyes open and teeth already showing—nuzzles his mother’s belly. Full and dreamy with Mother’s milk, Pup the Sea Otter yaaawns and sleeps on Mama’s chest. She grooms him with her paws and teeth and tongue,
licking his fluffy fur and slippery flippers—slurp slurp slurp—until she, too, falls asleep, hugging him close, wrapped in seaweed.

Spread 3 (pg. 6-7): But Pup is hungry, and his hunger wakes them up. Now Mama must eat for both of them. Wrapped in kelp (so he doesn’t drift away), Pup the Sea Otter bobs like a fuzzy cork . . . while Mama dives and forages for food on the sea bottom.

Spread 4 (pg. 8-9): Pup squeals and cries—EEEEEEE! Mama! Where is Mama? There she is!
She pops up with a tasty crab tucked in a pocket under her front leg! Then she rolls on her back and—munch crunch munch (shell and all!)

Spread 5 (pg. 10-11): Now she dives for more . . . down and down to the ocean floor . . . and rises with a large abalone. This time, she rolls on her back, pulls a big rock from the pocket under her forearm, and . . . WHACK! WHACK! WHACK! She cracks open the hard shell—munch crunch munch!

Spread 6 (pg. 12-13): After she eats, Mama holds her little one on her belly again, so Pup the Sea Otter can nuzzle and nurse. Sometimes alone, sometimes in a raft of other mothers and pups floating in the sea—they sway with the swells, swirl and sleep. She grooms and dives for prey, as the days grow into weeks.

Spread 7 (pg. 14-15):At one month old Pup the Sea Otter eats solid food for the first time! His mother brings him shelled oysters and bits of abalone. But he wants to dive with his mother. At first, he’s a weak swimmer— he’s too buoyant and pops back up like a rubber duck! But he learns from her . . .

Spread 8 (pg. 16-17): and at three months old it happens! He sheds his fluffy pup coat and his heavy adult fur grows in. Now he can dive like his mother! SWOOOOSH! Down and down, trailing bubbles through the kelp forest, powered by his strong hind limbs.

Spread 9 (pg. 18-19): And his catlike paws and sensitive whiskers lead him to his prey. There! Clusters of small clams! Pup pulls them one by one from the billowing mud, tucks them into his armpit pocket . . .

Spread 10 (pg. 20-21): and races Mama to the surface. AIR! He rolls over and pops one in his mouth—munch crunch munch. YUM! When his belly is full, it’s time to rest, and groom, and float, and sleep. And when he wakes . . .

Spread 11 (pg. 22-23): it’s time to play with the other pups! To race and chase and swish and tumble. To swirl and twist and rock and roll!

Spread 12 (pg. 24-25): Suddenly, the other pups are gone. Pup the Sea Otter is all alone. He hears waves crashing. Something is coming. A FIN! Slicing through the water right toward him.

Spread 13 (pg. 26-27): Pup squeals and cries—EEEEEEE! Mama! Where is Mama? There she is! She grabs Pup by the scruff of his neck, and dives down and down. Just as the Great White Shark is nearly to them . . . SWISH! Mama slides through a narrow crack . . . And pops up on the other side—Pup is safe!

Spread 14 (pg. 28-29): Summer comes and summer goes.The swells roll in and waves crash.
And Pup the Sea Otter grows and grows. By eight months old, he’s learned all he needs to know from his mother. One day he’s living side by side with her . . . and the next . . . he’s with a raft of young males! Tumbling and rolling, racing and wrestling, eating and grooming, and resting, wrapped in kelp.

Pg. 30: At home in the sea.

Pg. 31: AUTHOR’S NOTE. Sea otters are one of the most important animals living in the coastal seas of the North Pacific. Among their favorite foods are the sea urchins, which live in the kelp forests along the shore. Sea urchins eat kelp. So sea otters help save the kelp by eating the urchins. And kelp is extremely important to coastal sea life.

Weighing up to ninety-nine pounds, sea otters are the largest member of the weasel family, which includes weasels, skunks, badgers, and wolverines. But they’re small compared to other sea mammals, like whales, dolphins, porpoises, sea lions, seals, and walruses.

Besides sea urchins, sea otters love to eat clams, crabs, mussels, abalone, and oysters, putting them in direct competition with commercial fisheries. But remember, sea otters help save kelp, and kelp is important to the shellfish that fishermen depend upon.

Luckily for fishermen, sea otter mothers usually only give birth to one pup per pregnancy. The pup in this story is a Southern—or California—sea otter. Northern sea otters live off the coasts of Alaska, British Columbia, and Washington.

Sea otters are fascinating. They have the thickest fur of any animal—from 200,000 to over a million hairs per square inch! Unlike other sea mammals, they have very little blubber. Instead, sea otters depend on their dense fur for warmth. Sea otters rarely climb out of the sea. They spend much of their day diving for food, eating, and grooming, which is necessary for their fur to keep its warmth. Like humans, sea otters use tools—rocks for breaking shells. Sea otters have to eat more than a third of their weight in food every day. Imagine a child weighing sixty pounds eating more than twenty pounds of food per day!

When they forage for food, sea otters can hold their breath as long as five minutes and dive down over 300 feet. They are strong and graceful swimmers.

Prior to hunting there were hundreds of thousands of sea otters in the North Pacific. But between 1741 and 1911, most were killed for their fur. The population plummeted to just a few thousand otters. In 1911, hunting was prohibited, and in 1977 the California sea otter became protected by the Endangered Species Act. Since then, the California sea otter population has increased to around 3,000.

Even so, today their numbers are going down, and nearly one-half of all sea otter pups die each year. Some die from great white shark attacks, but most die from pollution of the coastal waters. The biggest threat to sea otters is oil spills.

Thanks to education and conservation efforts, the world’s cutest furry animal just might stand a chance of surviving. Long live Pup the sea otter!


"(Nature, Baby Animals, Growing-Up) From the instant of his birth until the moment he is grown enough to leave his mother, Pup the Sea Otter’s life is filled with love, excitement, and new experiences. Although at first he is dependent on his mother’s protection and her milk for survival, Pup soon learns more: what to eat and how to dive for food, when to watch out for predators, and how to play with the other Pups. Following Pup’s life story, young readers learn that it is ok to look for help from time to time, and that however frightening growing-up may be, life is one big, exciting adventure.

Pup the Sea Otter is a non-fiction book told in a narrative style that is engaging and captivating. Sensory language invites the reader to empathize with Pup’s experiences, while Sean London’s colorful and life-like illustrations draw the reader in to Pup’s watery world. Particularly intriguing about this narrative is the dual perspective from which it is told: rather than focusing exclusively on the perspective of the Pup, the story begins with a perspective split between Pup and his mother, and only gradually shifts to being exclusively from Pup’s perspective. Mimicking the increasing awareness and independence of a child as he or she grows up, this subtle approach not only teaches the child about this fascinating animals, but also invites him or her to consider the relationship between animals and humans, and how similar we really are.

Overall, this is a beautiful book, combining natural history education with literacy support and empathy development. Fun as well as educational, it is a good choice for home or school." — The Children's Book Review

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