Rescuing Rialto: A Baby Sea Otter’s Story

I don’t watch nature shows, no matter how cute the animals are advertised to be, because without fail one will meet its demise on camera, and donotevenbothertellingmeitisthecircleoflifebecauseIdonotcare. I will be a blubbering mess. Even with nature books, I proceed with trepidation, hesitantly turning the pages and sometimes peeking through my fingers. Rescuing Rialto, however, is officially deemed safe by this sappy sucker for cute critters. The darling star of this book was found alone on a beach at Olympic National Park, and while there are a couple of heart-tugging photos of him looking very bedraggled and forlorn, that’s the worst of it, and we are off to the races with stinkin’ adorable pics of him taking a bottle, chewing ice cubes, learning to float on his back, being hand-fed clam strips, and great googly moogly, patting his primary caregiver on her face with his fuzzy paw. Mapes’s narrative, which follows Rialto from his rescue to his life at his permanent home at the Vancouver Aquarium, is enjoyably readable yet packed with information, and she thankfully avoids ham-handed anthropomorphism. Unnecessary, people! Berner’s photos are crisp and dynamic, accompanied by useful captions. Rialto’s story makes even us humans – well, a handful anyway – look good. The people who care for the little one around the clock, feeding and towel-drying him after he swims; those who transport him comfortably and safely from Seattle to Vancouver; and the caregivers who greet him at the aquarium are the very best our species has to offer. I mean, really, he travels with his favorite foods and his bottle, and he is welcomed with new ice toys, a crib, and fresh white towels for drying off. (It’s a good thing this is not a video blog because I’m starting to sniffle. But at least it’s not because anybody has become a Happy Meal for a predator.) In addition to the engaging details of Rialto’s journey, Mapes provides solid information about otters in general – habitats, behavior, etc., making this a great choice for kids simply interested in adorable fuzzballs or for aspiring zoologists. Go, Rialto, go!

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