Thursday, February 17, 2011

Picture Book: Astro The Steller Sea Lion by Jeanne Walker Harvey

A baby sea lion, only a few days old, is separated from his mother.  Fortunately, he is rescued by a scientist and taken to The Marine Mammal Center—a place for sick, injured, and stranded marine mammals.  The lost sea lion is named Astro.  For 10 months, he is cared for and feed by the staff.  When Astro is mature enough to join the other sea lions, he is taken down to the ocean shore.  Confused and frightened, he refuses to leave the beach area to find food.  He has bonded with humans instead of other steller sea lions, so he does not feel “at home” in the open sea.   Workers attempt on two more occasions to acclimate Astro back into his natural habitat.  Each time though, he returns to the area near the Center where he seeks to interact with humans.   The staff decides to find him an alternate home.  Fortunately, an aquarium in Connecticut offers him a place to live.  After some training in the Long Marine Lab at the University of California, Astro flies on a plane across the country.  He quickly acclimates into his new home, complete with lots of people visiting him each day!   This happy and playful seal is now a stellar attraction at the Mystic Aquarium.
Evaluation:
Astro, The Steller Seal is based on real events.  Author Jeanne Walker Harvey brings this remarkable and beloved sea lion’s story to students all over the country.  Realistic pictures accompany the fascinating narrative.  This book is especially conducive to teachable moments and the classroom instruction.  The resource pages in the back give general and life cycle information on steller sea lions.  A map is provided to plot out Astro’s travels.  Also, there is a comparison of steller sea lions to harbor seals.  Finally, Sylvan Dell, the publisher, has provided a 31-page Teaching Activity Guide full of across the curriculum handouts and ideas to accompany the book.  The website includes quizzes and other information.   Families and classroom students are sure to enjoy this story! 

Visit the Mystic Aquarium to see him in person or click on Meet the Real Astro to meet him on the web.    

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