Oscar The Octopus: A Book About the Months of the Year (Matthew Van Fleet)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Oscar The Octopus: A Book About the Months of the Year by Matthew Van Fleet, an aquatic, interactive adventure for little bookworms.

Readers follow the mostly unseen – save for his tentacles – Oscar as he spends the year catching a menagerie of sea creatures (it’s never directly explained what he DOES with the creatures he captures, and eventually they are all released). With each page dedicated to a month of the year, a touch-and-feel element – along with the text – gives the reader a clue as to what creature Oscar has caught this time; a lift-the-flap and label reveals the various sea animals, such as lionfish, sea otters, sharks, cuttlefish and more. At last, when his year of fishing is done, Oscar feels a tickle in his nose. Letting loose a mighty sneeze, he releases his smiling collection of new friends back out into the sea.

Tons of fun. While the light story is a little confusing, and the subtitle a tad misleading (the subject matter has as much to do with sea animals, colors, and the touch-and-feel sensory elements as the months of the year), the final product is so much fun for little readers that it’s easily forgivable. JJ had an absolute blast feeling sticky cuttlefish tentacles and discovering furry penguin chicks, and begged to be read the story a second time the moment we finished – always a telling sign of how engaging a book is. Van Fleet’s illustrations strike a good balance between natural authenticity and cartoon appeal for each of the creatures, and the story is a brisk yet immensely entertaining read. A lovely addition to any curious young bookworm’s library, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Hello, My Name Is…: How Adorabilis Got His Name (Marisa Polansky)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Hello, My Name Is…: How Adorabilis Got His Name, written by Marisa Polansky and illustrated by Joey Chou, an imagining of how a sea creature’s unique name came to be.

A small pink octopus is placed into a tank, and being a friendly sort, calls out a hello to the other inhabitants. Immediately, the deep sea creatures that make up his tank-mates (among them a yeti crab, a six-filled shark, a fangtooth, a mimic octopus, and more) approach the newcomer, commenting on how small and cute he is. They ponder aloud what he will be called, causing the little octopus confusion – called? The others explain that the humans that care for them give the creatures names, usually alluding to their appearance or special skills, such as parachuting from higher rocks, but begins to seriously worry about what his name will be. At last, a scientist appears and calls him by name: Adorabilis. The other creatures agree that this is a perfect name for the little guy, and the neighbors settle into their new life together.

This was – as the subject matter would imply – very cute, and a cool way to teach children about both the newly discovered Adorabilis species and how creatures can get their common names. The illustrations are darling, and bring the tank’s inhabitants to life, adding character and color (another reviewer did note that these species would all-but-impossibly share the same tank, so diehard marine life-enthusiasts may have to suspend their disbelief). My only issue is that the title gives away the ending! I wish they had kept the subtitle a little more vague, which would have added a fun layer of suspense to the story. As it was, knowing what the animal’s name is from before the first page diminished the urgency of the octopus’s anxiety. Otherwise, the length was great, and JJ enjoyed it. A fun tale that introduces some nifty creatures, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

Inky’s Great Escape: The Incredible And (Mostly) True Story Of An Octopus Escape (Casey Lyall)

Hello, friends! We’re back from vacation with a brand new review! Today’s book is Inky’s Great Escape: The Incredible And (Mostly) True Story Of An Octopus Escape, written by Casey Lyall and illustrated by Sebastià Serra, a delightful tale of a daring eight-armed escape artist.

Inky is well-known as an escape artist, the greatest of the seven seas. After a life of thrilling escapes, Inky finds that the sea offers him no more challenges, and decides to retire to an aquarium to live in comfort. There he becomes friends with his tankmate, another octopus named Blotchy, and regales him with stories of his exploits. Blotchy likes his friend, but finds his stories and claims a bit far-fetched. He challenges Inky to showcase his skills, betting that Inky can’t break out of their tank. Inky accepts, and even ups the ante: he’ll break out of the whole aquarium! The daring cephalopod plans his jailbreak meticulously, and just as Blotchy is beginning to think his pal is all talk, the perfect opportunity arises… and the escape is on!

Hilarious and adorable. Loosely based on a real incident at a New Zealand aquarium, Inky’s story has been anthropomorphized here. This gives both octopuses voices and motivations for the infamous escape, ones that are humorous and engaging for little ones. There’s a small amount of description of the incredible biological features that allow octopuses to be such master escape artists – though I wish there had been more, to be honest – and the ending introduces a bit of fantasy, but is still heartwarming and sweet. The bright, energetic illustrations are filled with adorable sea creatures that JJ loved, the length was good, and overall this was just an enjoyable read. We can definitely recommend this for any fellow fans of marine life, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!