How to Get Your Octopus to School

Penguin/Flamingo. May 2023. 32p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780593205228.
PreS-Gr 2–“Congratulations! It’s time for your octopus to start school!” A small, apprehensive coral octopus eyes the letter flashed by a young pale-skinned girl, matching the extra arms of her playmate with two long, dark brown pigtails. Her octopus would rather stay home, and he uses camouflage to hide in plants, a toy chest, and the shower, sending the girl scouring the house for her eight-armed friend. After snatching him up into a tickle attack, she plops him down beside a closet to find a suitable outfit for the first day of school. Mystery mollusk toast for breakfast concludes the manic morning, and then it’s time for the clingy octopus to slide into Mrs. Bubble’s classroom. What surprises will the octopus discover inside? Scharnhorst’s second-person narrative slips readers into the perspective of the young girl sending her cunning, yet cuddly, octopus off to school. While the octopus’s game of hide-and-seek may extend a bit too long for grown-ups, young readers will hardly notice as they enjoy spotting the octopus hiding throughout Sinquett’s playful and brightly colored digital cartoon illustrations. Spoiler alert: The goodbye hug at the end of the story might draw a tear from grown-up readers getting ready to send children off to school. Back matter contains a list of “Ten (Mostly) True Facts About Octopuses,” for readers curious about the habits of octopuses highlighted throughout.
VERDICT A charming, eight-armed hug of a story that won’t hide long on library shelves.

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