Octopus Stew

Holiday House. Sept. 2019. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780823437542.
K-Gr 2–Ramsey is an Afro-Latino kid with a robust imagination. As he finishes an oversize painting of an octopus, he inadvertently, and to his despair, inspires his grandmother to cook octopus stew. As soon as they are back from the market with a huge, live cephalopod, Grandma sets an ever bigger pot with boiling water for the unfortunate octopus. From this point on, anything could happen. Pura Belpré and Coretta Scott King-John Steptoe honor winner Velasquez will surprise primary grade readers with a story that is as fascinating and hilarious as it is absurd. The English text intertwines with Spanish phrases that provide a multicultural approach and validates the boy’s family background. The vibrant paintings, done in oils, strike the eye with large and expressive characters. The setting is highlighted by shades of blue, mustard, and orange that course throughout the pages and add a lively tone to the story.
VERDICT A hilarious read-aloud that could be read during a storytime. The back matter contains author’s notes, a glossary of Spanish words used in the book, and a recipe for octopus stew.

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