The Bookworm Sez 11-8-10 |

The Bookworm Sez 11-8-10

Terri Schlichenmeyer
LaCrosse, Wis.

What would you do if you ever got lost?

If it’s ever happened, you know how scary it is. You look around, and nothing seems familiar. Everything is different, and you can’t find the person you were with. The good news is that there’s always an adult around to help you find your way.

In the new book “Astro: The Steller Sea Lion” by Jeanne Walker Harvey, illustrated by Shennen Bersani, adults come to the rescue of a baby sea lion. But he’s not very keen on going back home.

When Astro – who is a special sea lion called a Steller sea lion – was just a few days old, he got lost. His mother was nowhere to be found, so a scientist near the California coast took the little guy to The Marine Mammal Center, where Astro would be safe.

Because he was hungry, his new friends at the Center fed Astro with a special smoothie made of ground fish, salmon oil, and whipped cream. You probably wouldn’t like a glass of that, but it tasted good to Astro.

A few months later, Astro was big and strong enough to go back to the ocean. His human friends took him to the beach, but Astro didn’t want to leave. He seemed afraid of the water, so he joined the elephant seals there. That wasn’t a good situation for a sea lion, so Astro’s friends took him back to the Center.

They tried to release Astro into the middle of the ocean.

They tried to release him to another island.

They tried to coax him towards the bay, but Astro was having none of that. He kept returning to places where there were humans. He wanted to be with people, not other sea lions!

So everyone decided that Astro could stay with people, but he couldn’t stay at The Marine Mammal Center. The Center was for sick animals, and Astro was healthy and strong. So where could a young Steller sea lion – one small member of a threatened species – go to live?

How about way across the country, from one corner to the other?

Got ecology-minded little ones in your herd? “Astro: The Steller Sea Lion” will make them yip with glee.

Based on a true story with real people and a real Center, author Jeanne Walker Harvey tells the tale of one baby animal that was saved through quick intervention. Kids will love hearing about Astro and his travels, and they’ll enjoy knowing that they can visit the real Astro at an aquarium.

Though older (and more curious) kids will enjoy the bonus back-of-book information on Steller sea lions, habitats, and life cycles, the amazingly realistic illustrations by Shennen Bersani will probably be what draws small children to this story. Be sure to take a peek yourself during read-alouds. You’ll be amazed.

While this is, indeed, a picture book, I think any animal-loving child up to age 9 would be happy having it. For them, “Astro: The Steller Sea Lion” is something to get lost in.

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