‘Sabby the Sea Otter’

REVIEW: Ridge Writers on Books

By Kim Steinhardt, full-color photos, Craven Street Books, hardcover, 32 pgs., juvenile nonfiction, $17.95, 2020.



Noted award-winning marine wildlife author and photographer Kim Steinhardt visited Ridgecrest and Ridge Writers two years ago to introduce his book “The Edge: The Pressured Past and Precarious Future of California’s Coast,” co-written with Gary Griggs. He lectures widely on the subject.

He considers our exceptionally compromised situation from a different angle in the true children’s story “Sabby the Sea Otter” that hits store shelves this month. He has stunningly observed and photographically documented the plight of four-weeks-old Sabby, a young pup “about the size of a shoebox, not counting his floppy tail.”

Steinhardt starts by explaining that the adventure “must be told so little sea otters everywhere can understand what the world is like, and so we can understand what the world is like for little sea otters everywhere.”

Although carefully tutored by his mother, Sabby veers off from the lagoon he knows and into the Great Big Pipe that traps him and sucks him out toward the deep blue Pacific. “He was roughly tumbled, twisted and spun. The sharp shells that lined the pipe scraped him.” His frantic mother faces obstacles in her attempt to find him and bring him to safety, while racing here and there, hoping to spot his head bobbing in the water. Then suddenly, Sabby’s “powerful natural instincts took over – those are the forces that guide us to survive without thinking, based on who we are…. He showed a new courage and began to move as only a sea otter can.”

The story unfolds with excitement, an important message throughout, a happy ending, and wraps up with a glossary and “Fun Facts.”

Steinhardt actually witnessed these events off the California coast, recording them faithfully with images so detailed and engaging you would half believe the critters and even the waves posed for his camera. He took all pictures with telephoto lenses in order to maintain safe distance and avoid disturbing the sea otters and other marine life.

He has been an advisor and photo contributor to “National Geographic Kids Explore My World” series. His words and pictures could easily enlist kids in the cause of saving our environment for their and future generations.

This monthly column is written by members of Ridge Writers, the East Sierra Branch of the California Writers Club. Meetings are held the first Thursday evening of each month at Ridgecrest Presbyterian Church and free programs are offered throughout the year.

Story First Published: 2020-03-20