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Launchpad: Sea Otters, by Isabelle Groc

"An important story, one that gives us hope...Young people will be encouraged to see that positive change can happen, and that we can all do something to help preserve our planet." —Dane Judi Dench

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This spring we've made it our mission (even more than usual) to celebrate new releases in the wake of cancelled launch parties, book festivals, and reading series. With 49th Shelf Launchpad, we're holding virtual launch parties here on our platform complete with witty banter and great insight to give you a taste of the books on offer. You can request these books from your local library, get them as e-books or audio books, order them from your local indie bookseller if they're delivering, buy them direct from the publisher or from online retailers.

Today we're launching Sea Otters: A Survival Story, by Isabelle Groc, which no less than Dame Judi Dench calls "an important story, one that gives us hope...Young people will be encouraged to see that positive change can happen, and that we can all do something to help preserve our planet."


Book Cover SEa Otters a Survival Story

The Elevator Pitch. Tell us about your book in a sentence.

Sea Otters: A Survival Story, illustrated with my photographs, looks at the history, biology, behaviour and uncertain future of sea otters, their journey from near extinction and how their role as a keystone species is essential to a rich, complex and connected ecosystem, contributing to the overall health of the planet.

Describe your ideal reader:
Readers 9 to 12 curious to learn about wildlife and the environment, love sea otters, and are interested in books that show how to make a difference for the overall welfare of the planet.

What authors/books is your work in conversation with?

Jane Goodall, who says that every single individual makes an impact on the planet every single day, James Estes who wrote about sea otters as keystone species, and books that demonstrate the important role of all predators in regulating ecosystems.

What is something interesting you learned about your book/yourself/your subject during the process of creating and publishing your book?

Scientists are constantly learning new things about the role of sea otters in the environment and more generally about the components of functioning, healthy marine ecosystems. While writing the book, I discovered how far-ranging the impacts of sea otters were. These animals are adorable, and I never tire of watching them, but more fundamentally, I have learned that they help reveal the importance of other species, sometimes ignored or under-appreciated in natural systems. I realized more than ever that everything is connected, and that when one species is removed from a system, there are cascading effects that we barely comprehend.

The thank you's. Go ahead and acknowledge someone whose support has been integral to this project.

I could not have written this book without the scientists who have shared their knowledge of sea otters in different communities and invited me to join their field research. I am immensely grateful to Jenn Burt and Erin Foster, the two scientists who took the time to review the manuscript and make sure it was scientifically accurate. I am also delighted that Dame Judi Dench and David Mills have such a keen interest in helping educate young people about the natural world.

What are you reading right now or next?

I am reading Radical Acts of Love, by Janie Brown who openly talks about a difficult subject in a kind, hopeful and empowering manner.



Book Cover SEa Otters a Survival Story

About Sea Otters: A Survival Story

Sea otters once ruled the Pacific Ocean, but the fur trade of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries brought this predator to near extinction. Today they’re slowly coming back from the brink, and scientists are learning more about their pivotal role as one of nature’s keystone species. This book looks at the history, biology, behavior and uncertain future of sea otters. Author and photojournalist Isabelle Groc takes us into the field: watching sea otter rafts off the British Columbia coast from a kayak, exploring what makes their fur coats so special, understanding how their voracious appetites are helping kelp forests thrive and, ultimately, learning how sea otters are leaving their mark (or paws) on every part of the ecosystem. They might be one of the most adorable creatures in the ocean, but kids will discover how their survival is key to a rich, complex and connected ecosystem.