Toward the end of her short life, an octopus exchanges a series of postcards with others around her, including a boy on a pier and her newly hatched eggs.
Spread by spread, a simple narrative accompanied by postcard messages provides clever introduction to the life of a giant Pacific octopus. Though Latham’s story is thoroughly fantastic, both author and illustrator have been respectful to this amazing creature, describing realistic behaviors and depicting her relatively accurately, right down to the rectangular pupils of her eyes and her senescent color change. Agnes the octopus squeezes herself into a jar and later into a crevice in the rocks. As “Crabby Crab” requests, she stops eating crabs, but only because she’s ready to lay her eggs. She evades a predator by ejecting a cloud of ink. She quietly tends her eggs until they hatch, and then she bids the world goodbye. She has final advice for her pen pal Andrew, too: “You can’t be mad or sad when you’re swimming. Try it.” Backmatter offers further information about octopuses (including the correct plural) as well as solid suggestions for further reading. Baker’s appealing collage, acrylic paint, and digital illustrations are full of deep-sea color and abound with interesting patterns and textures. They include other thoroughly recognizable sea dwellers.
Certainly the most engaging of the recent wave of octopus stories, for reading aloud or reading alone. (Informational picture book. 4-7)