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Otter on His Own - Smithsonian Oceanic Collection

August 18, 2012

By: Carisa Kluver

The Digital Media Diet

Watch an otter pup grow up and leave home ...

Otter on His Own is a lovely little title from Oceanhouse Media's Smithsonian Collection - a series based on popular non-fiction print titles about the natural world. The print version of this title was released in 2011 along with an audio CD, revising an older Soundprints title from 1995. As an OM book published for mobile devices in 2012, this title sparkles, giving enormous value over its print counterpart, including narrated text that highlights as read.

This book series fills a great need for digital book apps with non-fiction educational content. The books selected so far have been well vetted as print titles, making it easy as parents & educators to select these digital books with confidence. This title covers the lives of sea otters, their pups, hunting and general facts about the predators and prey in the bay. Each title in this series takes the original print images and pans over them in a nice, semi-animated style. There is also a nice array of sound effects, like splashing in waves, a foghorn and otter pup cries, paired nicely with a great male voice-over. The sound effects also help the story come alive without overshadowing the narration.

Overall, this is a solidly made book with nice enhancements. If you tap anywhere on the page, words appear that represent the different images (e.g. 'sea', 'otter pup', 'kelp'). If that word also happens to be part of that page's text, the word is highlighted within the text of the story, helping young readers make important connections between the written and spoken word. Paired with OceanhouseMedia's omBook's template, non-fiction titles get a clear educational boost when print goes digital. 

The only things I would suggest for improvements would be a page guide and a way to turn the sound off for the interactive elements (words) in the 'read myself' setting. Links outside the app are also present, although they are at least tucked away in settings found only on the title page.

As a way to foster a child's love of the natural world this app series gets high marks. It is well developed and based on sound scientific information. There are even a few pages at the end with extra educational content about sea otters. These books are also beautifully presented with nice illustrations and light enhancements that make the print titles come alive. Recommended!

All reviews are of the app, not the platform/device. Based originally on iPad versions. Minor technical details may vary.


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Otter on His Own - Smithsonian Oceanic Collection

August 18, 2012

By: Carisa Kluver

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Smithsonian Collection

Oceanhouse Media, Inc.

Length (time):
10 - 12 Minutes

Based on non-digital book: Yes

Allows Own Narration:

Uses Motion: No

Age: 4 - 10 +

English •

Length (pages):
52 Pages


Story Synopsis - Otter on His Own - Smithsonian Oceanic Collection

At the edge of the Pacific Ocean, a sea otter put and his mother are swimming ... the baby is only two hours old and learning about the sea for the first time. His mother keeps him clean and warm while he rests on her belly as she floats on the surface of the water. Eventually she needs to hunt, though, so she wraps the baby in kelp to anchor him to the seaweed while she gets herself some dinner.

This continues for several months until the otter pup can begin to find food on his own. His mother shows him how to use rocks to crack open the hard shells of clams, abalone and other creatures she finds on the ocean floor. Soon the pup is old enough and big enough to try for himself. Soon he is full grown and ready to explore farther than his familiar cove. He sees new creatures, like dolphins, sharks (that almost eat his mother) and more ...

Then one day he leaves his mother's side for good and is 'on his own'. Four pages of otter facts follow the story.


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Orientation: Landscape & Portrait

Format: Universal


Read to Me, Read Myself, AutoPlay, Sound On/Off, News On/Off, Links to: AppStore, Web, Facebook, Twitter

App Release Date:


Size: 16.35 MB

Version: 1.09

Lite Version Available: No



Otter on His Own - Smithsonian Oceanic Collection

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