Sea Otter Inlet by Celia Godkin (Fitzhenry &Whiteside) was written 20 years ago, but its message is still needed and its design and illustrations beautiful and still fitting to today’s picture book market. I picked it up because it’s about sea otters and I wanted to compare it to my book Oliver’s Otter Phase (Arbordale Publishing, Fall 2017). It’s beautiful.
Godkin enthralls the reader with the sea otter world before slowly, page by page, showing what happens when an ecosystem engineer is removed from its habitat as the sea otter was by over hunting. It’s a gentle process, simply explained without science jargon such as ecosystem engineers and food chains, but we know something horrible has happened. Just as we feel the despair that mirrors this damaged ecosystem, she tells us how, once a sea otter returns to the inlet and their numbers increase, the system heals over time. It’s magical how Godkin does this without preaching or teaching, just facts and illustrations working together to show what hope looks like. This book is perfect for any budding naturalist, or any teacher wanting to introduce the concept of ecosystem engineers, or any adult who thinks it doesn’t matter to wipe out a species. Sea Otter Inlet is a keeper!