cover image An Octopus Followed Me Home

An Octopus Followed Me Home

Dan Yaccarino. Viking Children's Books, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-670-87401-9

Strange critters befriend the narrator of this absurd tale, which pokes fun at those who adopt stray puppies and kittens. A tiny girl leads a huge, balloon-shaped octopus into a bathtub (""An octopus followed me home today,/ One that I promise to love""). Her exasperated father is not amused ("" `I'd like to remind you,' my daddy said,/ `Of all the pets I let you keep./ Like the crocodile who lives under my bed/ and won't let me get any sleep' ""). In chiding tones, the parent lists the bear behind the couch, the seals in the pool and the ""two-elephant garage,"" just to name a few. Finally, the girl relents and releases the tentacled creature, only to find another ridiculous (extinct) beast for the book's closing image. Yaccarino--who explored the idea of impractical pets in If I Had a Robot--specializes in simple text and whimsically distorted shapes. Double-page spreads feature zoo animals with bulbous, inflated bodies that end in graceful, swooping tendrils; the bulky elephants extend vinelike trunks, a roomful of rabbits sport tapering ears and a giraffe's neck ends in a pointy nose. With a plot and images fueled by imagination and exaggeration, this is one story specially tailored toward beginning readers. Ages 3-8. (Oct.)