5 Stars Otter Lee Brave Rena Cherry Brown Schiffer Publishing No. Pages: 48 Ages: 5 to 10 ..................
Lee, a young otter, loses his mother and finds himself in a rescue aquarium where he meets a bully, learns to trust human beings, survives a catastrophe, and, by recalling his mother’s lessons, makes a tough decision that ultimately changes his life.
Lee is a young pup, beginning to learn his way around the bay with his mother as his teacher. He wants to dive deep and bring back clams, impressing his mother, but little Lee think he is too small to dive so deep. His mother tells him,
You don’t have to be big to be brave.
While lying serenely on the water, a dark shadow appears above them. Lee’s mother yells for him to dive to the floor of the bay. Lee dives deep, all the way to the sandy floor. Swimming back to the water’s surface Lee looks for his mother, he cannot find her. She is trapped in a fishing net at the bottom of the bay. Days later, an otter rescue boat picks up Lee and takes him to their aquarium, where he can continue to grow. Without his mother, Lee is an orphan.
At the aquarium, a bully keeps Lee from eating, grabbing away anything within Lee’s reach. This bully, named Brody, taunts Lee in the water. When an earthquake hits the area, the aquarium bursts open, dumping all the otters in the bay. Lee is the only otter born at sea. The others do not know what to do.
Lee tells everyone to link together, but Brody laughs and dives deep into the water. Soon the rescue group has rescued all the otters—except Brody. He never linked up. Lee dives down to the floor looking for Brody and finds him caught under a fishing net. Lee has a tough choice to make. He can ignore Brody and be free of the bully forever, or he can rescue him and be at his mercy once again.
Otter Lee Brave is a good story for any child who has experienced bullying. Brody is the typical bully, be it an otter or a kid. He is mean to those smaller than he is which helps him with his low self-esteem. Lee is a cute, lovable character kids will adore. Some will even identify with him, others with Brody. Lee does his best to avoid the bully, but eventually must stand up to him. That is a terrifying moment and kids will understand Lee’s thoughts about leaving Brody where he was, trapped under water. The writing is wonderful. Kids will get a story and a primer on otters.
The illustrations are dramatic and help draw you into the story emotionally. The first page sets the scene. Lee is lying on the water and you can feel the waves rocking him gently. When Brody splashes in the bay, the water flies around him. Being in the bay, the illustrations rely on blues and greens, which the illustrator uses deftly to make the water come alive.
Otter Lee Brave is a good book for teachers. Students learn about otters, see them in the bay and at a rescue. Learn facts like a life span that averages ten to twelve years, even though they can live to be twenty-five-years-old. That fact is a great discussion question. I think kids will love Lee’s story.
Otter Lee Brave is a well-written, emotional story with stunning illustrations complimenting it on every page. I immensely enjoyed this picture book. The story combined with the illustrations make Otter Lee Brave a richly told story with drama, emotion, and heart. This is Ms. Brown’s second children’s book, both illustrated by Ms. Maidment. This is sure to be an award-winning book.
There are additional otter facts in the back of the book. Kids could easily use Otter Lee Brave as part of a project or paper on otters.