In this strangely familiar tale, the titular cephalopod meets a big bad tiger shark while carrying a basketful of crab cakes to her grandma.
Along with silly bits, this buoyant benthic variant includes lots of authentic marine detail. Dispatched with parental reminders to “stay out of the seaweed, and don’t ink strangers,” Little Red floats through a brightly colored reef, chasing the occasional shrimp and responding rather rudely to the greetings of a sea cucumber and a yellow octopus. No sooner does she arrive at Grandma’s than the toothy shark attacks—but after an exciting chase marked by a quick dive into the sand with an instant color change, plus a well-timed cloud of ink, Little Red escapes and goes off, tentacle in tentacle, with Grandma for a snack: “I bet we could wolf down these crab cakes.” Gotfredson gives most of the cast, including that sea cucumber, big human eyes but otherwise renders the reef and its tropical denizens with fair accuracy, and the authors append nature notes on cuttlefish and tiger sharks. The colors pop, and shifts in perspective keep readers engaged.
Heroic Little Red makes such a splash that even though no one gets eaten or cut open, even the most ghoulish among young readers won’t be disappointed. (websites) (Picture book. 6-8)