Friday, December 28, 2018

Review: Little Otter Learns to Swim by Artie Knapp

by Artie Knapp
Illustrated by Guy Hobbs
Ohio University Press
Picture Book
32 pages

In this endearing and beautifully illustrated picture book, a baby river otter learns to swim, dive, and play in her natural habitat. Encouraged by her mother, the little otter soon sets out to explore on her own, quickly learning to escape shoreline predators and to find her way back to the security of home.

From children’s author Artie Knapp and wildlife artist Guy Hobbs, Little Otter Learns to Swim is an entertaining and colorful tale for ages four and up. The story is followed by two pages of fun facts about river otters as well as information and resources from the River Otter Ecology Project.


Sweet, informative, and gentle—this is a lovely book which introduces young listeners to the world of river otters.

The time has come for Little Otter to learn how to swim. He's nervous but his mother knows how to handle the situation with loving care. Soon, they're swimming and diving. When the mother leaves Little Otter alone for awhile, she soon encounters unexpected dangers. But the river is always the otter's friend.

This is simply a wonderful read. The story is written in rhyme, one that flows pretty nicely the whole way through. But, in general, the text is kept to a minimum and is appropriate for even younger listeners. Little Otter undergoes a small adventure, but it's a gentle one and allows the wonder for the animal to come across as it swim among other residents of the river. The more tense moments, which Little Otter must survive, give the listener an idea of the predators an otter faces with a tiny dash of tension. The warmth at the end of the story will have young listeners ready for a last cuddle.

At the very end of the book, there more detailed information about otters is offered. These pages provide material for parents/guardians to either use in discussions or simply as more information for themselves. Either way, it makes for a rounded book, especially for otter fans young and old.

One of my favorite aspects of this book are the illustrations. The are beautifully done, spur emotions at the right moments, and invite into the otter's world. The depictions are realistic enough to bring across a true impression of the otters—something real fans will love. And it's a treat to gaze through them even when the text isn't being read. It makes for a wonderful read.

 And here he is...

Artie Knapp is the author of over 40 published children's literature works that includes books, videos, stories and poems. His children’s stories have been featured in several course books by HarperCollins, Orient BlackSwan, Oxford University Press, Pearson Education, and The Chart Institute in Japan, among others. Additionally, Artie’s work has been published in various magazines and newspapers, as well as online publications. Among his writing credits are the children's books Stuttering Stan Takes a Stand and Living Green: A Turtle's Quest for a Cleaner Planet, a shortlist finalist for the Green Earth Book Award. He is a member of The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, and graduated from Ohio University. Artie lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, with his wife and daughter. To learn more about Artie and his work, visit him online at

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