PUBLISHED: 7:05 PM on Wednesday, August 27, 2008
A wild ride with Pete Puffin
Book Review
Pete Puffin's Wild Ride Cruising Alaska's Currents, written and illustrated by Libby Hatton. Alaska Geographic, 32 pp. $16.95, hardcover.

Eddy Turn's grandfather carved Pete Puffin to look like birds he saw in Alaska, but Pete lives on land in Maine, securely tucked under his friend Eddy's arm. Pete's calm life is churned up when Eddy's family takes an Alaskan cruise and Pete falls off the ship.

Suddenly, Pete is at the whim of the ocean's currents. His tumultuous journey takes him all across the North Pacific, the Arctic Ocean and over to the North Atlantic.

Along the way, readers will learn all about marine ecosystems and the interrelations among currents, ocean health and the marine food chain.

Pete Puffin's tales are accompanied by flip-over postcards from Eddy to his grandfather, adding a fun interactive feature and an additional layer to the story.

Pete Puffin himself is an endearing narrator, sure to charm readers with his tales of his adventure.

"Sometimes I'd think, 'I'm Pete Puffin, a sea bird. My natural home is water,' and I would feel brave. Then I'd think, 'Oh, I'm just a little wooden toy. I miss Eddy and Ted!' and I'd feel very down."

Pete's story is inspired by 28,800 bathtub toys - yellow ducks, blue turtles, green frogs and red beavers - who took their own wild rides when a cargo ship lost twelve containers of toys in a fierce North Pacific storm in 1992. These toys are still being found washed up on beaches throughout the North Pacific, including Alaska.

Author Libby Hatton, of Anchorage, previously illustrated the award-winning children's book, "Ballad of the Wild Bear." Her vibrant watercolors in "Pete Puffin" evoke a storm at sea, a vicious polar bear and the snout of a curious seal.

Alaska Geographic is donating copies of "Pete Puffin" to every school and public library in Alaska, thanks to funding support from the Alaska Ocean Observing System. A Pete Puffin-based educational curriculum for teachers is also being developed. Look for it on

"Pete Puffin" is available from Hearthside Books and from Alaska Geographic's online bookstore.

-Katie Spielberger