Good Thing You're Not an Octopus

by Julie Markes, Illustrations by Maggie Smith

HarperCollins, Feb., 2001.
Picture Book, 40 pages.
ISBN: 006028465X
Ages 4-8

Good Thing You're Not an Octopus by Julie Markes Good Thing You're Not an Octopus is an excellent book to pull off the shelf when a child is feeling negative about the daily chores of life, which include putting on one's clothes, brushing, one's teeth, and taking a nap. It is a book that uses repetition of phrases combined with ridiculous situations to make each point. The story begins by comparing the trials of a little boy who only has to put his two legs into two pant legs to an octopus who would have to put eight legs into his pants. Likewise, a caterpillar would have to put shoes on eighteen feet compared to a little boy who only has to put shoes on two feet. And what child would not feel luckier than a baby bear at nap time, when a baby bear has to nap all winter long? A shark would have to brush two hundred teeth.

Maggie Smith draws comical illustrations of the little boy going through an entire day of things he does not really want to do. The illustrations are large, and show the different animals appearing in the child's own environment. A mother tiger is shown licking her cub to clean him up, while the little boy in the same room is sitting in his bathtub. Sitting beside the boy who is seated in his car seat is a baby kangaroo, who has to sit in his mother's pouch in the back seat of the family car. Since the baby animals are shown having the same problems right beside the little boy, this brings the situation into focus for the child.

For those occasional days when a child feels negative about everything an adult wants him to do Good Thing You're Not an Octopus can bring a sense of humor into the situation and make things more pleasant for everyone.

-- Sarah Reeves White

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This review was published in the September, 2001 of The Internet Writing Journal.

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