Review: Octopus Stew by Eric Velasquez

Octopus Stew by Eric Velasquez

Octopus Stew by Eric Velasquez (9780823437542)

Inspired by her grandson’s picture of Super Octo, his grandmother decides to make octopus stew. So the two set off for the fish market where she gets the biggest octopus in the store. The boy gets a warning about octopi on his phone, but she won’t listen to him. She starts the water and gets out the biggest pot when they get home. As the two sit together in the living room, a strange noise comes from the kitchen. The octopus is now so big that it has blown the lid off the pot! It grabs grandmother and holds on to her. Now it’s up to her grandson to figure out how to get an octopus to let go!

Velasquez has won both a Pura Belpre and a Coretta Scott King John Steptoe Award. Here, he writes a layered story that has a gatefold in the middle where the entire story is revealed to be just that, a tale being told. Cleverly, the book can be read both ways either as a story being shared aloud or as a full-on monster tale. However you choose to read it, the book has brisk pacing and plenty of action. It features a Latinx family with Spanish words and phrases sprinkled throughout the text.

The illustrations offer a dynamic superhero feel that works well, since the main character is a superhero fan. The action is captured with plenty of drama and the size of the octopus is enough to pose quite the threat.

Grab this picture book and squeeze it tight! Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy provided by Holiday House.