There are SO MANY things I love about Thank You, Octopus by Darren Farrell, but it's clear that the best place to start is with the octopus - a rare but very welcome character in a picture book and not seen with this level of earnest, smart humor since the dynamic duo of Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith brought us Cowboy and Octopus. Farrell's laugh-filled story is exactly the kind that little listeners love - a pattern is established, anticipation builds with every page turn and there is a spontaneous shout-it-out kind of audience participation that adds to the fun. Like Cowboy and Octopus, Thank You, Octopus is the kind of book that you will be asked to read over and over and, along with the listeners, never tire of.
In Thank You, Octopus, Farrell's eight-armed cephalopod is a well-intentioned parental type (the New York Times review brilliantly referred to Octopus as an "eight-tentacled au pair") making his home on a cozy tug boat in New York Harbor with his young friend. Farrell's illustrations are filled with little details and foreshadowing that add to consecutive readings and his characters are the perfect combination of cartoonish and childish. The color palette Farrell employs is perfectly nautical and pleasantly muted with bursts of bright yellows and reds.
Octopus knows just what needs to be done, but doesn't always know how to do it. I don't want to give away every unexpected, Amelia-Bedelia-type-misinterpretation made by the well meaning Octopus because the surprise of the page turn is priceless, even after you've read Thank You, Octopus a handful of times. But . . .
. . . it's very hard not to share a couple of my favorites here. A cry of "Bedtime ahoy" from Octopus kicks of the nighttime ritual with a bath - in a tub filled with egg salad. Brushing teeth, being rocked to bed, clearing the monsters out from under the bed (and relocating them to the closet...) are also up for misunderstandings and laughs in Thank You, Octopus. The boy politely, but firmly declines each time until he just can't take it anymore and has a bit of an understandable tantrum.
But nothing comes between these two pals, as the very clever back of the dust jacket shows us!
While doing a little research to write this review, I discovered that I had read and loved Darren Farrell's picture book debut, Doug-Denis and the Flyaway Fib, while perusing the Queen Anne Book Company in Seattle in 2011. I'm not sure why I never reviewed Doug-Denis and the Flyaway Fib, but I'm going to give it another read and am very happy that Darren Farrell's return to the shelves of picture books is a strong one!
Source: A Bookstore!