cover image The Octopuppy

The Octopuppy

Martin McKenna. Scholastic Press, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-545-75140-7

“Edgar wanted a dog,” so he’s none too happy when he gets an octopus named Jarvis instead. Sea green with tentacles that fade to violet, Jarvis resembles a cross between Squidward from SpongeBob SquarePants and Roger the alien from American Dad! His personality, though, is all his own. Announcing his arrival in a hail of confetti and streamers, Jarvis demonstrates a flair for the theatrical in everything he does—commanded by Edgar to “play dead,” Jarvis dresses up as a toilet-paper mummy, and when Edgar dares to let the octopus compete in a dog show, “Jarvis could only be himself.” (U.K.-based author-artist McKenna shows Jarvis juggling flaming torches while wearing a tutu and fruit-laden headwear worthy of Carmen Miranda.) Though some readers may be baffled by why Edgar is so unhappy with a pet as undeniably amazing as Jarvis, after Jarvis leaves (by flushing himself down the toilet), they’ll enjoy watching Edgar’s devoted efforts to find his lost friend. The story charts a fairly predictable course, but McKenna’s illustrations are resplendent with funny visual gags, and Jarvis oozes personality and charm. Ages 3–5. (Mar.)