Friday, November 30, 2018

Octopus Escapes and a House in the Sky

Today I'm featuring two books about animals. Both were published by Charlesbridge this year.
themes: animals, humor, homes

Octopus Escapes
by Nathaniel Lachenmeyer; illus. by Frank W. Dormer
32 pages; ages 2-5

Octopus waits. 
Guard closes gates.

What happens at the aquarium after everyone leaves for the day? In this story, octopus escapes. He slips and slides down hallways, turns and hides from the security guard.

What I like about this book: I am a big fan of "night at the museum" stories... and of octopuses. They are clever mollusks, able to open jar lids and squeeze through tight spaces. This midnight romp through the aquarium features fun to read aloud rhyming couplets.  The back matter (you knew I was gonna mention back matter!) is all about the amazing behavior of octopuses. They are brilliant problem-solvers and, YES, there are documented cases of octopuses escaping their tanks and cruising through aquaria since the 1870s. Though I don't think any of them went bowling...  The simple, cartoonish illustrations add to the charm.

A House in the Sky
by Steve Jenkins; illus. by Robbin Gourley
32 pages; ages 3-7

Animals, like people, often need a cozy place to sleep, a hideaway for escaping danger, or a sage place to raise a family. They need a house.

Steve Jenkins highlights fourteen different animals and their homes. From nest to shell, he shows a diversity of ways animals solve their housing problems.

What I like about this book: Each page features large, easy-to-read text telling something about an animal and its home. Perhaps the home is a shell that was found, or a case that is built of stick or stone. Some animals nest in trees, some underground, some build with clay, and one lives on the back of a whale! Short sidebars provide more information about the animal. For extra-curious kids (or parents who need a quick answer to all those questions) there's more information about each animal in the book.

I also like the realistic watercolor illustrations by Robbin Gourley. They invite one to linger on the page, searching for details.

Beyond the Books:
Visit an octopus. If you can get to an aquarium, check out the octopus tank. If there's no aquarium around, check out this video of an octopus escape.

What examples of animal homes can you find as you walk around your neighborhood or through a park? With leaves falling off trees, it might be easier to see bird nests. Perhaps there are wasp nests, holes chipped into trees, and other homes. Learn more about animal architecture here.

Today we're joining other book bloggers over at STEM Friday, where you can discover other cool STEM books. We're also joining Perfect Picture Book Friday, an event where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's website. Review copies provided by the publishers.


  1. I will be checking both of these out. Thanks for the heads up.

  2. Sue, these look like fun books. Especially a house in the sky. I'm looking forward to reading them.

    1. I think you'll really like the illustrations! My kids always liked to spend time examining details of drawings.

  3. These look great, fun and educational, I love that! My daughter is at an age where she is just soaking everything up, these will be perfect for her. I just picked up the Benjamin Birdie series and she has adored them. I highly recommend these as well. They are written by Michael Dositkas. The social lessons are fantastic, I love discussing them with her. I read more about the author here, Thank yo for these recommendations, Sue! Happy reading, everyone!

  4. what I like about these, Heather, is that they don't try to teach any lessons, but invite children (and adults) to explore the world.