Monday, November 7, 2016

Odd Octopus Out …and Bob

Today’s post is all about acceptance and finding one’s true self.

And me wondering, “What’s with octopuses?”

Not that I’m against octopuses. In fact, my fascination with giant squids has extended to octopuses after reading a very interesting book last summer called, The Soul of An Octopus by Sy Montgomery. (She’s also the author of many of books in the series, Scientists in the Field, a fantastic series worth checking out.) 

Cephalopods rock!


Let’s start with Hello, My Name is Octicorn by Kevin Diller and Justin Lowe. In this book, we meet Octi. Octi is half unicorn and half octopus. A rare breed, indeed. And he has a difficult time fitting in but really, really wants a friend. He has so much to offer, too: tons-o- fun at parties, excellent at juggling and various sports especially swimming, light on his tentacles when he hits the dance floor and an exceptional hugger. Things to know about octicorns include: how much they love s’mores, recess, and the colour blue as well as cupcakes (because who doesn’t like cupcakes?).

The humour comes across in the illustrations particularly well with simple blackline drawings on white pages. Some of my favourites include Octi break dancing and spinning on his horn; Octi toasting a s’more over a campfire also speared onto his horn; and Octi’s tentacles entangled around the bars of a merry-go-round. The book is a gentle exploration of how differences, whether in looks or interests, shouldn’t be impediments to making friends. The book ends with Octi inviting the reader to be his friend and he eagerly awaits our reply.

Then there’s The Octopuppy by Martin McKenna. 

“Edgar wanted a dog. But Edgar didn’t get a dog. He got Jarvis.”

And Jarvis is an octopus which was major disappointment, to say the least.

But Jarvis can do so much more than a dog. He’s multi-talented and exceptional in a multitude of ways and so, so eager to please Edgar.

But what he can’t do is ‘be a dog’ and after disappointing Edgar once too often Jarvis decides to run away from home or should I say ‘flush-away’ from home.

And this is exactly the moment when Edgar realizes how much more Jarvis has to offer than a dog. Why, he’ll rescue a kitten stranded high in a tree instead of chasing it; he prefers smelling roses to smelling poop; and he’s more likely to create a delicious meal rather than make-off with your food.

“He’s the best OCTOPUPPY in the world!”

Edgar then searches high and low and is finally able to get the word out about how sorry he is and desperately wants Jarvis to please come home.

Jarvis is not an octopuppy to hold a grudge and home he comes to be reunited with Edgar and live happily-ever-after.

I loved it for its premise and the colourful, zany illustrations. This one is just so much fun.

And then there’s Bob.

Bob, the Artist by Marion Denchars is about a bird who is teased about his super, skinny legs. He tries to fit in by trying to make them bigger but it’s just not possible. Rather despondent,he goes for a long walk and passes by an art gallery. He goes in and is---


 After viewing many beautiful, colourful and patterned pieces of art he realizes that this will be the answer to his problems. He will paint his beak in beautiful patterns like Matisse or Jackson Pollock. And those who had mocked him for his skinny legs? Well, they are so impressed with Bob’s talent that they change their tune to one of praise and admiration. Bob no longer worries about his legs and comes to feel more comfortable in his own skin confident enough to be who he really is.

The illustrations work well with the narrative with a crow-like Bob strikingly displayed on mostly white backgrounds. The font is loose and splashy (maybe done by hand?) that adds to the overall appeal of the books.

I recommend all three books for Kindergarten to grade 3.

 And look forward to seeing more octopuses in picture books.


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