Olivia Otter Builds Her Raft by Dara Kass and Jessica Piazza, illustrated by Abe Tensia

Source: Purchased
Hardcover, 32 pgs.
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Olivia Otter Builds Her Raft by Dara Kass and Jessica Piazza, illustrated by Abe Tensia, is a delightfully illustrated picture book that teaches younger kids about what it means to work with others and craft a reliable family net they can rely on. The colorful watercolor paintings – that’s exactly what they look like — compel younger readers to think about water movement and the life of an otter in its natural environment. Olivia Otter is swept up in a storm stronger than the ones she’s experienced before and she has nothing to hold on to, but she knows she’s a strong swimmer and a survivor. Olivia misses her mom and her family, but their memories are still with her.

Kids will easily read this book after some practice as Kass and Piazza have chosen words that young kids are already familiar with. My daughter and I loved that Olivia wanted to build her own raft of otters. Slowly over time she does just that, and these otters know that they can count on each other. When her small group stumbles upon a larger group of otters, it’s time to choose to live with more otters or be in their small group. Kids will learn what it means to be part of a larger society in this book — how to share and care for others who are not blood relatives, but are their family nonetheless.

Olivia Otter Builds Her Raft by Dara Kass and Jessica Piazza, illustrated by Abe Tensia, is a delightful picture book about survival and what family actually means. It will also teach children that no matter their gender, they’re equally capable of great things. Ultimately, I hope that my daughter and other young kids who read this book will learn to build their own rafts, expanding their family wide enough to support them no matter where they are in the future.

RATING: Cinquain

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About the Authors:

Jessica Piazza is the author of two full-length poetry collections from Red Hen Press: “Interrobang” (2013) and, with Heather Aimee O’Neill, “Obliterations” (forthcoming, 2015) as well as the chapbook “This is not a sky” (Black Lawrence Press, 2014). Originally from Brooklyn, NY, she holds a Ph.D. in Creative Writing and English Literature from the University of Southern California, a Master’s degree in English/Creative Writing from the University of Texas at Austin and a B.S. in Journalism from Boston University. She is co-founder of Gold Line Press and Bat City Review and a contributing editor at The Offending Adam. Her poetry has appeared in Agni, Indiana Review, Mid-American Review, Rattle, No Tell Motel, 32 Poems, Forklift, Ohio, National Poetry Review, Pebble Lake Review, Anti- and 42 Opus, among other places.

Dara Kass, MD is the founder of FemInEM. An emergency medicine physician and advocate for the advancement of women in medicine, she is passionate about creating a community where women in EM can act as champions for one another. She is a graduate of SUNY Downstate Medical School and Kings County Hospital’s residency program.

Abe Tensia was born in Wyoming and spent most of her childhood as an indoor kid/reluctant car camper.  After relocating to Maine to attend Bowdoin College, she realized that nature were pretty cool after all and began sharing her favorite bits through pen and ink drawings.  Her work celebrates creative play and the natural wonder and whimsy of the great outdoors, both things near and dear to her own heart.