Two sea creatures who do not really leap to mind as cuddly-wuddlies are starved for a little smooch and a little squeeze from the denizens of the beach.
Charlie the shark and Olivia Octopus—who could have come straight from Hanna-Barbera/Nickelodeon central casting—have yearnings. Charlie wants a kiss, and Olivia wants a hug, so they study beachgoers in order to devise stratagems. Elementary, my dear Ahab. Just set up a kissing booth, or put on a play, or offer free rides, or throw a cookout, complete with “delicious algae soufflé.” Kisses and hugs always follow a good time, don’t they? The kids are a tad wary, though, and the parents are near hysterical. When their best designs are met with screams of horror, Charlie begins to shed a tear. Olivia moves to comfort him. A hug. A gentlemanly kiss in return. Not bad, not bad at all. Who needs those pasty landlubbers? Affection can come from the oddest and often most overlooked places. Let us just hope that Charlie never activates his urge to swallow Olivia whole when a kiss was all that was intended. Brain chemistry...what a mess it can make of things. But not here. Cornell milks the premise for all it’s worth, throwing verisimilitude to the winds; a puckered-up Olivia, eyes closed, should have readers in hysterics.
Pity poor Charlie when he has to buy eight wedding rings. (Picture book. 4-8)