July 27, 2021

The octopus, gentle giant of a children’s book

The story could very well have been told with a dog, a cat, or any other classic from the bestiary of children’s books. But now, the animal that tumbles, one fine morning, in (or rather on) the house of the little narrator, it is an octopus. A giant octopus, fluorescent orange, which crashes on the roof and whose tentacles trickle down the walls of this pretty seaside hut.

Nobody wants him, until the children – obviously – discover him unsuspected qualities: in turn, a football team all by himself, a giant slide, a makeshift gardener, a household helper … Gradually, the octopus is adopted by the whole community, who until then watched this intruder out of the corner of their eye: “Everyone told us: How we would love to have an octopus, too! (Except the village pastry chef, Omar, who said: “I would rather have a squid.”) ”

Better than a cat?

By the way, plan a little preliminary tour of the dictionary to be able to boldly answer the question that your child, like you, will ask himself when reading this sentence. “The squid, you see my little one, is a cephalopod mollusk like the octopus, but it belongs to the suborder Decabrachia, and therefore has ten arms, two more than its cousin. “

Once this display of parental pseudo-science has been evacuated, one might wonder about the authors’ choice to publicize this strange creature with suction cups: pure absurdity? Graphic aesthetics? A bit of both. And undoubtedly also the influence of a ground movement (marine) which tends to enhance the unsuspected intellectual resources of the cephalopod. Is your child asking for a cat? Aim it at the octopus (but not in a salad!).

“Octopus and company”, by Peter Bently and Steven Lenton, translated by Marguerite de Joux, ed. Glénat Jeunesse, 32 p., € 13. From 3 years old.