About the Holiday
With fossils dating back 300 million years, the octopus is one of the world’s oldest and most fascinating creatures. It’s also one of the smartest as more than 500 million neurons fire information through an octopus’s brain and arms, allowing them to learn from experience and solve problems. Octopuses are versatile and are found in all the world’s oceans. While most prefer warmer waters and living along the ocean floor, some species swim in shallower, cooler waters. Octopuses have an excellent sense of touch and sense of vision—some even see in color. They fool predators by hiding or camouflaging themselves but can defend themselves by shooting an inky substance at their pursuers. To celebrate today’s holiday, plan a visit to an aquarium or other sea life center!
Also an Octopus
Written by Maggie Tokuda-Hall | Illustrated by Benji Davies
“Every story starts with nothing.” But as you think about your story, you imagine a character. This character can be anyone or anything—maybe a little girl, or a bunny, or an octopus. Maybe even an octopus that plays the ukulele. Yes! Now, by itself that seems kind of boring, so the octopus has to want something like a sandwich or a friend. Hey! Didn’t you think of a little girl? Maybe she could be the friend. But wait! How about if the octopus wants a “totally awesome shining purple spaceship capable of intergalactic travel?”
Now there’s a story! It’s not? Oh…too short? Too ehh? What if the octopus builds the rocket ship from stuff around the house? Easy-peasy! Oh dear, it doesn’t work. It can’t even get off the ground. Maybe that bunny from your earlier imagination can help. I’m sure that rabbit is great at building rockets—carroty ones anyway. Not exactly what the octopus had in mind though, huh? What’s an octopus to do beside feel “heartbroken”…beside feel “despondent?”
Maybe the octopus’s sorrows can be drowned in music. A few strums on the ukulele might be soothing. Not a bad idea! Doing this changes things completely! “People come to listen to the ukulele-playing octopus.” What a turn of events! Some of the people are rocket scientists who can help construct a spaceship and who “also play the saxophone, tambourine, trumpet, and lute!” Now this is getting interesting! “So what happens next?” Well, that is up to you!
But you say “I’ve got nothing”? That’s all you need—“because every story starts with the same thing: just a little bit of nothing.”
In Also an Octopus Maggie Tokuda-Hall encourages budding writers and other creative kids to trust their imaginations and let the ideas fly. With humor Tokuda-Hall demonstrates how characters, needs or wants, setting, plot, conflict, and resolution come together to make a whole story. Readers will see how one randomly chosen element can spark an entire work of art—one that is unique to its creator. Tokuda-Hall’s Octopus is a sweet, appealing character who just wants a spaceship (and a story) to take them wherever their heart desires.
Benji Davies’s adorable Octopus, sporting a red knit cap, immediately forms a bond with readers with sweet smiles, a determined work ethic, and a sad, dejected ukulele performance on a lonely curb. Davies’ vibrant purple, yellow, and orange palette highlights the gray octopus, making this would-be astronaut the star of each page. The rocket scientists who come to listen to, jam with, and help Octopus are a welcome diverse group of adults, and the final spreads show kids that with any object or idea, the sky’s the limit.
Ages 3 – 8
Candlewick Press, 2016 | ISBN 978-0763670849
Learn more about Maggie Tokuda-Hall and her work on her website!
You’ll discover a colorful world of illustration and kids books on Benji Davies’ website!
World Octopus Day Activity
Cute Sock Octopus Craft
Who wouldn’t like to have a cute octopus for a pet? With this fast and easy craft you can make your own little cephalopod to hang out on your bed, your shelves, or on your desk!
- Child’s medium or large size sock, white or colored
- Polyfiber fill, available at craft and sewing stores
- 2 Small buttons
- Hot glue or strong glue
- Fill the toe of the sock with a handful of polyfiber fill
- Tie the ribbon tightly around the sock underneath the fiber fill to separate the head from the legs
- Tie the ribbon into a bow tie
- With the scissor cut up both sides of the sock almost to the ribbon
- Cut these two sections in half almost to the ribbon
- Cut the four sections in half almost to the ribbon
- Glue the eyes to the lower part of the head
- To display, set the octopus down and arrange the legs in a circle around the head
Picture Book Review