Karen Autio

Children’s Author | Editor | Presenter


Kah-Lan and the Stink-Ink – Reviews



CM Canadian Materials – January 8, 2021
Excerpt: "…readers will appreciate the dangers faced by Kah-Lan as a result of human presence in the ocean; emphasizing the important role we all play in understanding and protecting animals like Kah-Lan ... a marine animal adventure that should not be missed." Highly Recommended (5 stars out of 5) Read full review by Chloe Humphreys.

Amazon.ca – January 1, 2021
"This story kept me on the edge of my seat. I loved the first Kah-Lan story, but this one really touched me. I’m very grateful to the Vancouver Aquarium for its rescue program. Kudos to the illustrator for the adorable drawings." (5 stars) Review by unicorngirl.

Canadian Children’s Booknews – Winter 2020 WE RECOMMEND New and Notable Books
"The reader becomes immersed in the sea, seeing everything with otter eyes. This is an exercise in empathy for a natural world in need of a helping hand…This book would complement a classroom unit on sea otters in particular or coastal ecosystems and the environment in general." Review by Ildiko Sumegi.

There Will Be Books December 16, 2020
Excerpt: "Autio creates an effective and interesting balance between Kah-Lan’s understanding and diction and what is really happening as the “furless Elders”—in fact marine rescue workers—perform actions readers will recognize but he does not. The marine rescuers’ words are presented in italics, allowing a cognitive switch between Kah-Lan’s perspective and the reader’s world. We can feel Kah-Lan’s trepidation, the fear and curiosity combined, as he is taken to be healed from his encounter with the “stink-ink.” Again, as in the first Kah-Lan book, the real dangers of life in the wild, and the hazards—both natural and of human creation—are not glossed over. Danger and death are a part of a sea otter’s life. This knowledge is reinforced in Kah-Lan and the Stink-Ink, and this time, the danger comes not from orcas but from a very real environmental threat. It is never to early to teach our children the dangers humans present to the ocean and all its inhabitants. It’s a damaged world we older generations have passed on to our children; the least we can do is help them understand the need to do better than we did. I would love to see Kah-Lan and the Stink-Ink not only on the shelves in elementary school libraries, but taught as part of the curriculum." Read full review by Karyn Huenemann.

Hakai Magazine – Coastal Science and Societies December 3, 2020
Excerpt: "This lively, descriptive tale shows what marine mammals are up against and what humans are doing to help and will hopefully encourage a new generation of ocean protectors." Read full review by Raina Delisle.

“A beautifully illustrated book that follows Kah-Lan and his friends on a journey that provides insight and education into the ocean ecosystems.”—Inside Vancouver, November 18, 2020

The International Educator – October 26, 2020
"Kah-Lan and the Stink-Ink by Karen Autio is a chapter book for young readers. We all know the perils and consequences of an oil spill in the ocean, but how would a young sea otter feel when his environment is endangered? This interesting story is told from Kah-Lan’s viewpoint as he grows up and is ready to leave his family raft. Venturing out alone along North America’s west coast, Kah-Lan learns about the dangers he must face and experiences what happens when people pollute. A nice story to share and discuss the environment." Review by Margriet Ruurs.

Kirkus Reviews – July 14, 2020
Excerpt: "A sympathetic adventure starring a beloved sea mammal… [with] intriguing perspective." Read full review.

Check out readers' reviews on Goodreads.

Kah-Lan the Adventurous Sea Otter – Reviews

"Although the story is fiction, the subjects in this story are well-researched. Children will be introduced to sea otters and the true elements of their daily lives ... The illustrations by Sheena Lott are very cute and appealing, and they pop up in just the right places throughout the story. Kah-Lan: The Adventurous Sea Otter provides a great learning experience for readers. Readers who enjoy stories about wild animals living in their natural environment will love this story!."
****/4 Highly Recommended.
Reviewed by Kaitlyn Vecchio in CM: Canadian Review of Materials, March 4, 2016.

A good review of Kah-Lan by Mavis Holder in Resource Links, February 2016: The reviewer was pleased to see the information and resources regarding sea otters included and wrote, "this story will ring true as the author has attempted to keep the animals' behaviour genuine and the hazards they face realistic."

Karyn Huenemann's review on There Will Be Books: February 4, 2016
"Kah-Lan opens with a lively description of two sea otter pups in a kelp forest, weaving and leaping through the kelp, nipping each other in play. The fluid motion of sea otters is captured perfectly; Kah-Lan and Yamka are real sea otters, with just enough anthropomorphism to satisfy young human readers. … Presenting Kah-Lan’s choices as consistent with his sea-otter nature, Autio is able to create a narrative that is exciting, and an animal character that nonetheless replicates human children’s need for both belonging and individuation." Read full review by Karyn Huenemann.

Hakai Magazine – Coastal Science and Societies November 25, 2015
Excerpts: "A standout among an excellent crop of books is Kah-Lan the Adventurous Sea Otter by Karen Autio, illustrated by Sheena Lott. This short chapter book was a lovely surprise. It’s a well-crafted adventure story about a sea otter pup called Kah-Lan and his raft (females and their pups). It’s perfect for older primary or younger intermediate readers. The many survival challenges this endangered species faces shape the tale—a shortage of food, treacherous currents, human encroachment, and hiding from their frightening yet powerful orca predators. Lott’s fluid black-and-white interior illustrations and the extra information about sea otters at the back of the book, make this an especially appealing and informative read. Read full review by Sheryl McFarlane.

BC BookWorld October 14, 2015
Excerpts: "Dripping with ecological facts yet without a whiff of didacticism, Kah-Lan the Adventurous Sea Otter weaves the natural environment into the myriad challenges that otters contend with—from orcas and riptides to food scarcity and fishing net entanglement … Reminiscent of the invented words in Richard Adams’s Watership Down, the language in Kah-Lan is nonetheless easy for young readers to discern without a glossary—although there is one provided … Engaging text, quick pacing and illustrations by Sheena Lott put the reader at eye level with the demands of life in our shallow coastal waters, while present-tense narration lends a sense of urgency to the otters’ experiences. Targeted mainly for readers ages seven to twelve, Kah-Lan is a story with cross-generational appeal because it will lead to conversations about the health of our oceans, the necessity of maintaining biodiversity of the maritime environment and the importance of keystone species—such as the sea otter." Read full review by Alex Van Tol.

Check out readers' reviews on Goodreads.