Book review: The Otter’s Tale — by Simon Cooper

(William Collins)
No grammar correction needed, the punctuation in the title is correct, as this is the tale — pun intended, I’m sure — of many otters, and in particular, one young female, Kuschta, her pups, and quite peripherally, their father, Mion. Blending natural history of otters, long found in the wilds of the British Isles with a personal history of his own, the author describes, with love and exuberance, how he came to be in the unique position of living in “an abandoned water mill that straddles a small chalkstream in southern England, called Wallop Brook.” Near the mill wheel, and within sight of the author’s desk, a vaulted tunnel became a spot where Kuschta could often be found. Rendered in quiet tones, with the natural rhythm of a calendar year, Cooper recreates the habitat of the otters in words and feelings, smells and sights with his unique perspective and insight. The reader will come away with a new vocabulary — spraints, holts, stoats, cogs, badlands, chalk downs — and a new understanding of otters and their relationship and contribution to the land they inhabit. Thankfully, even though otters were nearly eradicated, including but not limited to Henry II’s “otter control” by the appointed King’s Otterer, their continued existence is assured.
— Reviewed by Jenny Lyons of The Vermont Book Shop in Middlebury.
8 Affable Animal Anecdotes
The Travelling Cat Chronicles, by Hiro Arikawa
The Last Lobster, by Christopher White
The Inner Life of Animals, by Peter Wohlleben
The Honey Factory, by Jurgen Tautz
How to Be a Good Creature: A Memoir in Thirteen Animals, by Sy Montgomery
The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating, by Elisabeth Tova Bailey
H is for Hawk, by Helen Macdonald
Red-Tails in Love, by Marie Winn

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