Octopus' Den (Smithsonian Oceanic Collection)
Written by Deirdre Langeland
Illustrated by Steven James Petruccio
During a trip to the tide pools in California my family and I were lucky enough to see our first octopus, and we were all quite enchanted by the experience. So when I noticed this book at the library I decided to take a chance, afterall there had to be something useful in it. There is! This book is unlike other books I have read in that the author manages to weave a realistic but interesting story about an octopus with useful details and information so relevant to the story you can't miss them. I think children learn well this way, and well, so do I! I appreciate the fact that the octopus in the book is simply an octopus and not humanized any more than any octopus should be. He isn't named Fred or Joe, but suitably: Octopus. While reading this book I found myself intrigued with octopus life, and so were my children. The text in this book amazed me because although the storyline is quite simple the author uses awesome descriptive language as well as relevant oceanic vocabulary. My children found this book so interesting that they wanted to act out some octopus adventures of their own after reading it.
It is tempting to think that this book is more special to us because of our personal recent experience with an octopus. But I don't think that this would be fair. I am confident I would love this book nearly as much had I never seen an octopus and only wished I had. I am anxious to find out if my library has any more books from the Smithsonian Institution's Oceanic Collection, the collection this book belongs too. I have high expectations for the other books, and plan to use them with my children this summer in some of our own learning endeavors. This is the kind of book that is so well done that I am motivated to search out other great ones and pay the (gasp!) one dollar to get them via interlibrary loan! I am also seriously considering purchasing a few more as gifts for my children's birthdays because I liked this one so much. Stories are important to children, but so are facts and learning about our world. That is important to everyone. When the two can intertwine so gracefully it is a good thing!
If your children have enjoyed reading the Magic Treehouse Series, this book would be a great companion to #39 Dark Day in the Deep Sea.We love the Magic Treehouse series at our house, but with the magic and fantasy the author often uses, it doesn't hurt to add a little interesting reality at the same time. I think this book would be great for that purpose.