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Karen Wallace says octopuses have always had a special place in her imagination, from the storybook monsters of folklore to the young octopus she once watched escape from a fish trap, climb down a ladder, and sink back into the safety of the sea.

Mike Bostock, while illustrating GENTLE GIANT OCTOPUS, became fascinated by his subjects--the delicate changing color and texture of their skin, the rubbery, rippling way they move, and their transparent soap-bubble-like babies.


K-Gr 2-In this collaboration (Candlewick, 1998) between author Karen Wallace and illustrator Mike Bostock, youngsters are introduced to the gentle giant octopus, a sea creature that jets through the water and "slides over the seabed" and whose body "stretches like taffy over the stones." Wallace's poetical phrasing accompanied by the gentle, yet vividly compelling watercolor illustrations make this more than just an informational read. The picture book format will keep the interest of young children while presenting the facts about this lesser-known inhabitant of the sea. Narrator Alan Marriott, best known for his voices on the TV show Bob the Builder, provides a well-articulated narration; sound effects and background music enrich the telling. The CD can be listened to with or without page-turn signals. An additional track provides more information about the sea creature. A wonderful tie-in to nature or science units about the sea and its inhabitants.-Amy Joslyn, Fairport Public Library, NY Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

The Giant octopus's tentacles can grow to 150 feet, but in this graceful work the deep-sea creature seems tender and vulnerable. Wallace (previously paired with Bostock for Think of an Eel) uses two types of narrative. Facts are set in wavy lines of text, running concurrently with a story about a mother octopus's gestation, parturition and death. The story brims with poetic turns of phrase: a Wolf eel "darts from the shadows. His teeth strike like daggers. He rips off a tentacle. Then sinks like a nightmare deep into his den." The mother octopus defends herself through escape (shooting backward "by sucking in seawater and pumping it out"), camouflage (turning "very pale or very dark within seconds") and hiding ("Octopuses don't have any bones, and they can squeeze through the tiniest of holes"). Safe in her den, she lays eggs that "hang from the roof like grapes on a string." Bostock's thoughtfully composed watercolors are tactile, accurate and extremely attractive: rubbery tentacles undulate or creep on powerful suction cups; bubble-like babies swim up from their rock-bound nursery, out of which the mother's listless eye peers‘their nursery will become her crypt. This seamless weave of text and illustration offers a welcome counterpoint to popular depictions (e.g., Verne's and others) of the octopus as deep-sea villain. Ages 5-8. (Oct.)

A wonderful tie-in to nature or science units about the sea and its inhabitants.
-School Library Journal

In a picture-book format, this science book presents information on the giant octopus . . . The bold, bright watercolor illustrations help the odd-looking creature become more accessible to young audiences, making this excellent for reading aloud in a classroom setting.

Brief text and watercolor paintings describe how a female giant octopus moves, protects herself, and lays her eggs . . . With its striking artwork, it will make an enticing read-aloud for children interested in this fascinating sea creature.
-School Library Journal

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