Shy Octopus flees the sea horses who dance into her cozy cave, but the deeper ocean is lonely and a little scary, so she returns to her friends in the lively reef.
Srinivasan follows her debut, Little Owl’s Night (2011), with a similarly striking rendition of the marine world in this no-place-like-home tale. Her story opens with a cast of characters, reef inhabitants, that are identified on the end papers. Readers will be able to point them out as Octopus makes the traditional picture-book journey on pages whose backgrounds range from varying shades of blue and green to the near-black of the ocean depths. With frames, full-page and double-page spreads and even a fold-out starring a whale, the artist varies her images to add interest and show the passage of time. In spite of eyelashes that defy the usual understanding of the differences between mammals and cephalopods and the anthropomorphic plot, this sweet story is relatively accurate in its depiction of octopus behavior and reef ecology. The octopus changes color to blend into her environment several times, squirts ink to hide and escape, and lurks in caves. There are predators and prey, but, appropriately for the intended audience, no one gets eaten.
A gentle, positive story set in a world far less scary than that of Pixar’s Nemo. (Picture book. 3-7)