Divya Srinivasan, Viking, May 2013,
"When this old world starts getting me down
And people are just too much for me to face
I'll climb way up to the top of the stairs
And all my cares just drift right into space"
-- Carole King and Gerry Goffin, "Up On The Roof" (1962)
"He (a ship captain) told me about octopuses -- how they go 'round the sea
bed and pick up stones and shiny objects and build gardens. I thought,
'How fabulous!' because at the time I just wanted to be under the sea, too. I
wanted to get out of it for a while."
-- Ringo Starr, quoted in beatlesinterviews.org, recalling the inspiration
for writing "Octopus's Garden," the last Beatles song on which he sang
"The seahorses found Octopus fascinating, but she was shy and did not want
to be noticed. She tried to shoo them away. But they thought she was
playing, so they played too.
"'I give up,' Octopus sighed. Squeezing out of her cave, she crawled into
the garden. She changed colors just like that, and disappeared. The
seahorses swam away wondering where she'd gone."
We all have that need at times to just get away from it all. Octopus is no
exception. She leaves the reef that is teeming with life, using her
abilities to camouflage herself and to squirt ink when threatened, in order to
seek the quiet time she craves.
"When she finally stopped, she was far beyond the reef. Here the water was
gloriously empty...no one watching, no one to hide from. Whale song rose
faintly from the deep. Octopus remembered the dancing seahorses.
"She wiggled! She twirled! She even did a somersault! She was so happy to
On the endpapers of OCTOPUS ALONE, there is an undersea scene containing a
couple of dozen labeled marine creatures -- creatures that we will notice
amidst the story's illustrations as Octopus heads off seeking her solitude.
After a nap and some quality quiet time, Octopus is ready to get back into
the thick of it. She returns to the reef and the shenanigans of the
This tale about the need for quiet time and recharging is such an
important lesson for all of us. That it is accompanied by some basic lessons in
octopus physiology and these lovely undersea illustrations is icing on the
cake (or whatever the marine equivalent might be).
978-0-670-78515-5 40 pages
Recommended by: Richie Partington, MLIS, Librarian, California USA