I always love children’s books with a message that I can fully support. If You Take Away the Otter by Susannah Buhrman-Deever and illustrated by Matthew Trueman is one such fantastic book. Using a real-life example to illustrate the damages that would come about if a single animal is taken from an ecosystem, the author seeks to foster an understanding and appreciation for how all animals affect the world around them. Had it been written in a manner that was a little more accessible for young kids, it would have been perfect.
The best thing that this book has going for it are the absolutely and incredibly gorgeous illustrations that fill its pages. You almost feel as if you are swimming within the waters alongside the creatures that live there. The pictures tell an exceptional story of what happens to an area when otters are hunted and killed, their population decreasing. There’s a foreboding that comes to you as you flip through the pages. You feel haunted by the horrors of what has happened. Fortunately, relief returns in the form of the adorable little creatures returning to frolic about as they once did.
Where I think this book fails somewhat, however, is in its prose. None of it is exceptionally engaging to a young mind. In fact, as I imagine a parent reading this book to a child, I can already picture the kids growing bored and moving away in favor of other distractions. I feel like the book would have benefitted immensely from some sort of lyrical presentation. At the very least the information presented should have been done in a manner that allows kids to remain engaged.
I just think that too much was thrown in with the odd expectation that a child would pay attention. And while I love this book in spite of that, I know I would have a difficult time getting my niece to pay attention to it. It’s definitely a book I would recommend for older kids, at minimum eight or nine years old.
This book is a warning, one that everyone should heed. It’s exceedingly important for young children to be introduced to these truths so that they can grow up into adults who genuinely care for these animals and their plight. I am glad to have read it.
I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.