Feiwel & Friends. Sept. 2022. 288p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781250147424.
Gr 3-7–From the details of the real-life otter rescue program at Monterey Bay Aquarium, Applegate imagines a backstory for the sea otter #156, named Odder. Odder is a bit of a misfit, feeling an inexorable need to push the boundaries of her local habitat. Interacting with humans and exploring amid dangerous predators, her adventurous spirit eventually gets her in trouble. The dark yet humorous tone of the free verse paints a very human set of motivations for risk-taking and living life on one’s own terms. Odder’s origin story comes to life through her eyes as she convalesces following a shark attack that risked her friend’s life and made Odder feel responsible, even while revealing her courage and loyalty by coming to the rescue. Santoso’s grayscale illustrations complement the factual underpinnings of the narrative, encompassing the wild ocean world where predators rule and others struggle for survival. This book will appeal to animal lovers and anyone who feels a little stifled by convention.
VERDICT Hand this book to middle grade fans of marine biology, authors like Sharon Creech and Eliot Schrefer, and Applegate’s Newbery-winning The One and Only Ivan.

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