Odder by Katherine Applegate

Source: Borrowed
Hardcover, 288 pgs.
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Odder by Katherine Applegate, illustrated by Charles Santoso, is my 8th book for the 12 books recommended by 12 friends reading challenge. Odder is a sea otter who has been raised by humans and released into the wild. She adjusts well, but she seems a bit more daring than her friend. Told in the present and alternating to the past when she was being raised in animal rehabilitation facility, Odder’s life in Monterey Bay, California, is an adventure.

From too late (pg. 4-5)


You've been there,
haven't you,
in the cafeteria line
or the breakfast buffet,
taking a chance on
some new food?
Grab, gulp, grimace:
You spit the offending
item into a napkin,
no harm, no foul.

Same goes for the shark,
who quickly 
reconsiders and


there's no need for noise,
for grunts or squeals or chirps.

Not when you can twist
and pretzel and weave.

Not when you've turned
frolic into art.

Applegate uses narrative poetry to tell Odder’s story. The poems really read more like prose. Odder is a curious otter who loves to swim and dive and push the envelope. But it wasn’t always this way. She’s had to learn how to be an otter after she was discovered by humans as a pup. I won’t spoil the whole story, but it is a heartwarming tale of growing up parentless and learning to discern where dangers lie. It’s also a story about learning to love and evolve beyond what you perceive as your capabilities. Sometimes you can surprise yourself.

Odder by Katherine Applegate, illustrated by Charles Santoso also touches on the healing process from trauma. Kids will learn a lot about otter behaviors and how they interact in the wild, what their habitats are like, what they eat, and what animals they fear. I learned a great deal about the rehabilitation process and how humans try to prevent these wild animals from bonding with their caretakers. Applegate also includes resources for kids to check out and learn more about otters and rehabilitation programs.

RATING: Quatrain

About the Author:

Katherine Applegate is the Newbery Medal-winning and #1 New York Times bestselling author of numerous books for young readers, including The One and Only Ivan, the Endling series, Crenshaw, Wishtree, the Roscoe Riley Rules chapter books series, and the Animorphs series.

She lives with her husband, who writes as the author Michael Grant, and their children in California.