A veteran science writer introduces the most intelligent invertebrate of all, the octopus, master of camouflage.
These shape-changing, ink-squirting, ocean-dwelling cephalopods are “strange and wonderful” in many ways. Their lives are short, culminating in a one-time mating after which neither adult will eat, though the female stays alive to guard her eggs. In captivity, they reveal particular personalities and surprising intelligence. The author covers the basics of size and shape, habitat, feeding, relations with humans, survival mechanisms and reproduction in a smooth narrative that flows from page to page, carrying readers along. Like most titles in the Strange and Wonderful series, this inviting introduction is graced with Henderson’s detailed and accurate watercolor illustrations. A spread describing octopus relatives reinforces the distance among their connections, showing a variety of hard-shelled mollusks on the left-hand page and the octopuses’ closest kin—the nautiluses, cuttlefish and squids—on the right. Another double-page spread asks readers to find six octopuses camouflaged in various ways on a reefscape. (Answers are in back.) Even the octopus on the back cover is not obvious at first look. A glossary, index and suggestions for further reading and Web research conclude this stellar example of nonfiction for middle-grade readers.
Pringle inks another winner in a long series of engaging, informative invitations to explore the natural world. (Informational picture book. 5-10)