My Life at the Bottom: The Story of a Lonesome Axolotl

Restless/Yonder. May 2022. 46p. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9781632061386.
PreS-Gr 3–In a lake near a city, a single axolotl lives with tiger salamanders, fish, and snails for company. Evidence of “big lugs” (humans) abounds: on land, buildings spew dark smoke into the air, and underwater, the axolotl and its friends find plenty of “exciting treasures” (trash). When the tiger salamanders grow lungs and venture out of the water, the axolotl is lonelier than ever, until a “raging monster wave” sweeps it out of the lake and into a surprising new environment: a “pet shop zoo” containing another axolotl. When the storm clears, the “big lugs” are gone, and the two axolotls happily repopulate the lake. An axolotl is a fascinating choice of narrator for this story that works on two levels: it’s one creature’s journey, but it’s also the story of how climate change is affecting all the creatures on the planet. The axolotl’s wide-set eyes, with a single line or curve for its mouth, convey innocent happiness, sadness, and surprise in turn. Color is used effectively to shift the tone throughout, from cool underwater hues to the light and air pollution (and, on one spread, wildfire) on land above.
VERDICT This charming-but-not-preachy story could be a real conversation starter for preschoolers and elementary students, and encourage budding environmentalists and climate activists; recommended.

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