CM . . .
. Volume xxi Number 15 . . . . December 12, 2014
O’Shae the Octopus tells the story of young octopus who has 10 legs instead of the usual eight. While this make him different from the rest of his family, his parents point out that this also makes him unique. One day, while O’Shae and his friend, Shelton the Shark, are enjoying the playground, two tough looking creatures come along. They tell O’Shae he doesn’t belong there because he is different. The little octopus is, of course, upset, but his friend cheers him up saying they can make their own fun. Soon other fish are coming to play, using O’Shae’s many legs as a play structure. The two bullies realize that O’Shae is different, but tons of fun, and they apologize, and, in the end, everyone is happy.
The text is written in rhyme, and for the most part flows well together. There are a few forced couplets, but the rhythm is maintained throughout. The concept of the story is admirable, showing kids that different doesn’t mean bad; however, the message seems to be oversimplified. The story moves from conflict to resolution so quickly that I wonder if children will really get the message, or if it will be swept away with the tide. There seems no real reason that the bullies see the error of their ways, other than they want to join in the fun. I was also unclear about the jump from O’Shae being told to leave the park, to his becoming a park for fish. Young children may relate to this, but I fear that the message they will get is that, if you are mean and you say “sorry”, then that makes everything alright.
The illustrations are colourful and will appeal to young children. Some of the characterization is questionable. Most of the creatures do not wear clothing, with the exception of O’Shae, who wears a cute onesie, making him look quite young. In addition, the mean crab wears spiked bracelets which seem very stereotypical of a bully. The bright colours selected by Eliska Liska match the mood and lightness of the story. Young children will like looking at the quirky details on many of the pages.
O’Shae the Octopus feels like a sugary sweet version of a lesson about accepting others’ differences. Very young children may enjoy it, but I believe that there are other stories out there that better convey this message.
Recommended with Reservations.
Georgette Nairn is a teacher at Harold Hatcher School in Winnipeg, MB.
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