NO bones about it -- the common octopus, most often misrepresented in literature as ferocious, is if not docile at least manageable in this account. The authors follow an egg-laying female into her den as she clusters and broods over her eggs, only to die after they hatch. A male of the batch then becomes the object of study -- living in a tide pool and then in a ""town"" in the sea; using his jet siphon for short and speedy getaways; changing color (here limited to red and white) for reasons still uncertain; poisoning an attacher (by biting, although the actual process is probably closer to an osmotic procedure). One of his tentacles enlarges into a sexual organ and he mates with a female who instinctively kicks him out after laying her eggs: ""though she doesn't know it, he might cat them."" The use of one to represent a group is valid here because what Octopus does is in strict accord with known behavior patterns. The Cook and Wisner book on octopuses and squids is for a much older audience, and Olive Earle's small volume is more technical and explicit.