Friday, June 13, 2008

Book Review: The Tickle-Octopus, by Audrey Wood

One morning, about a million years ago, Ughmaw awakened with a bone in her nose and a frown on her grumpy face.

The Tickle-Octopus is a prehistoric romp through one cave family's hilarious journey of reconnection. Through the actions and courage of the parents' sole remaining offspring and his wiggly, pink discovery, this particularly grumpy cave family learns the cathartic and unexpected effects of participating in the lighter side of life. 

Slightly larger that a standard sheet of paper, with an interesting peek-hole in the cover, The Tickle-Octopus is the perfect antidote for a case of the blah's.  A reader can't help but pick up this book. Everything from the thick, sturdy cover with way unusual edges, to the curiosity-inspiring title, to the delightfully primitive yet expressive illustrations just screams, "Read me!" And that's only the outside...

The team of Wood and Wood have created yet another book with all the stuff a kid loves: funny pictures full of wild-haired cave people, silly nonsense language (with translation), and a kid who teaches the grown-ups a thing or two. To extend the fun, they've even included some fold-put pages with great cut-out edging that follows the illustrations, giving the reader some extra, larger-than-life, three-panel views into Bup the Caveboy's world.

For Teachers and Librarians:
If your school year isn't over yet, The Tickle-Octopus is just the thing for a fun read-aloud/art project. Be sure to really ham up the cave-speak. Your little charges will just love it! After you read it, have your students create their own version of a tickle-octopus, and tell the class about it. What is it? What does it do? What does it look like? How does it help people? If you're lucky enough to be done for the summer, keep it in mind for next year. It's a great springboard for a discussion on feelings, family, and doing things together (instead of starting at the tube). And, you can still do the art project, too. I've done this one in my own classrooms, and it's always been a hit!

For Parents, Grandparents and Caregivers:
Are the kiddos squabbling a lot? Slumping around complaining there's nothing to do? Then this book is just what you need! Read it aloud to them, or hand it to them and let them go on their own. Either way, they will not be able to hold off the giggles! It's funny to read out loud, and it's funny to listen to, and best of all, by the time the book is over, they'll be in a much better mood...

For the Kids:
Don't you just love it when a book shows a kid being the smart one in the family? Bup the Caveboy is his grumpy parents' only child that's left, so they block the cave with a rock before they go out hunting, to make sure he doesn't disappear, too. While they're gone, he finds this pink, wiggly thing. When he finds out what it does, he knows exactly what he has to do. What does he find? What does the thing do? And will his parents ever not be grumpy? Hmmm. Guess you better go find the book so you can figure it all out...

For Everyone Else:
Silly is as silly does. This may be a kid's book, but I'll tell you, it is a hoot. And, it certainly makes you re-examine your priorities. 

Wrapping Up:
The Tickle-Octopus is one of those books everyone should have on their shelf at home. It's funny, it's cute, it's silly, it's family friendly, and it shows the power a determined kid can have in this sometimes gloomy world of ours.

Title: The Tickle-Octopus
Author: Audrey Wood
Illustrator: Don Wood
Pages: 48
Reading Level: Ages 4-8
Publisher and Date: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1994
Edition: 1st
Language: English
Published In: United States
Price: $14.95*
ISBN-10: 0152870008
ISBN-13: 978-0152870003

*Note: This is the price listed on my personal copy. I have yet to find a new copy for sale online, and suspect it may be out of print. I did find used versions on places like Amazon and Abebooks, but they ranged anywhere from $20 to $50 per copy, depending on condition.

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