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Astro: The Steller Sea Lion    by Jeanne Walker Harvey & Shennen Bersani order for
by Jeanne Walker Harvey
Order:  USA  Can
Arbordale, 2010 (2010)
Hardcover, Softcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

Jeanne Walker Harvey marks her picture-book debut with Astro: The Steller Sea Lion, a chronicle of an orphaned sea lion. Illustrator Shennen Bersani's skill with mixed-media technique of colored pencils, crayons, and paints complements the story. Bersani's illustrations are life-photographs, superbly blended with background and scenery.

Astro was found orphaned on an island off the coast of California, then raised and cared for by the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito. Caretakers realized the longer Astro remained in contact with humans, the more difficult it would be to return the sea lion to the ocean. At ten months, Astro had grown strong enough to leave human care. A satellite tag would allow the Marine Mammal Center to track Astro's travels in the ocean. 'His friends took him to the beach where he had been found and set him free in the surf.' But Astro had other ideas!

Astro swam for miles to return to his caretakers, who soon realized the sea lion had become used to a human environment. Attempts at release were made through varied venues, including this one: 'Astro was put on a boat with eight Northern fur seals to be released in the ocean ... twenty-seven miles west of the Golden Gate Bridge.' However, Astro refused to come out of the release cage!

Astro: The Steller Sea Lion is a heartwarming, endearing story based on real-life events. Steller is a species named after naturalist George Wilhelm Steller. Included in Astro's book, under the title For Creative Minds, are subtitles such as, Steller Sea Lions Threatened and Endangered, and Where in the World? A Map Activity.

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