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Octopus Soup (2012): Mercer Mayer, Back to the Roots

Mercer Mayer, Octopus Soup (Marshall Cavendish, 2011)

full disclosure: this book was provided to me free of charge by Amazon Vine.

photo credit: cookingandorscience.blogspot.com

Wordless wisdom for the pre-lit set.

Mayer’s wordless storybook detailing the adventures of an inquisitive octopus is an absolute delight. It did, however, get me thinking about the wordless storybook and what age group it should actually be aimed at. My son, now fourteen months old, has gotten into the habit of “reading” books by himself—he will spend twenty minutes or more with a beloved book, just turning the pages and looking at the pictures (as much as I’d like to believe he’s actually reading…). I don’t know that he’s capable of grasping an actual wordless narrative on his own quite yet, and “reading” a book like this to him might well prove a challenge—Mayer’s illustrations, as always, are full of all sorts of fun little detail that could have a parent spending ten minutes or more per page, at which point the kid might very well be bored. But what details do you cut out in order to advance the book at a reasonable pace? (This might well be usable as a crash course in Film Adaptation 101….)

The (sometimes) helpful guide on Amazon’s page puts this at K-2; at a guess, you’re not supposed to try and read it to the kid, but let the kid process and digest on his own. I’m okay with that, and if he starts getting narrative, cause-and-effect, etc. before kindergarten, well, I’ll be over the moon. Until then, I’m perfectly content reading it myself; I grew up on Mercer Mayer, and this feels like a trip down memory lane. Mayer is just as wonderful an author now as he was when I was a kid. ****

About Robert "Goat" Beveridge

Media critic (amateur, semi-pro, and for one brief shining moment in 2000 pro) since 1986. Guy behind noise/powerelectronics band XTerminal (after many small stints in jazz, rock, and metal bands). Known for being tactless but honest.

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