Friday, April 22, 2022

Consider the Octopus

Baskin, Nora Raleigh and Polisner, Gae. Consider the Octopus
April 5th 2022 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

JB Barnes is forced to spend the summer before seventh grade on his mother's research ship, the Oceania II, where she is trying to arrange a conference with environmental activists and draw attention to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The ship is also hosting a student program, SEAmester Kids. JB is checking in the summer campers before the ship sets sail, and previously had been in charge of e mailing a list of scientists and inviting them to his mother's last minute Emergency Global Summit. When Sidney Miller shows up, she wants to try to sneak aboard as a SEAmester member, but has an invitation as a scientist, since JB sent her an e mail by mistake. Sidney wants to do some activity during the summer that will get her away from her overinvolved parents, and her grandmother helps her perpetrate this ruse. She manages to get by JB by pretending to be Alex Mylanakos, but when Alex turns out to be a boy, Sidney isn't sure where she should room. The other campers are in high school, and since she's JB's age, she does look a little suspicious. Luckily, Diamond and Katie take pity on her, offer to let her share their room, and help JB hide her. Sidney is sure that she is meant to be on the ship, due to a number of odd coincidences that she decides are "sychronicity". A number of scientists do show up, and the ship makes its way to the Garbage Patch, but it's still important to alert the world about what is going on. Can the young people reach out through social media to big wigs like Damian Jacks to raise awareness about this ecological disaster?
Strengths: I have a disproportionate number of students who are interested in marine biology, considering that we live in the middle of Ohio! There aren't a lot of books involving children sailing, and this reminded me a tiny bit of Maureen Johnson's 2007 Girl at Sea. JB and Sidney are innovative, concerned kids who hold their own with adults and high school students to effect change, and I'm always a fan of Kids Doing Things. This was a great adventure for the summer, and I loved the environmental message. 
Weaknesses: I had a lot of trouble believing that Sidney's grandmother would help her sneak on board the ship and lie to her parents, and also couldn't quite believe that a number of scientists would turn up on short notice for a conference to which they were invited by e mail. Younger readers will not have any trouble with this. 
What I really think: Readers of other environmentally focused books like Dimopoulos' Turn the Tide, Lorentz's Wayward Creatures, Henderson's Young Captain Nemo, or Davis' Partly Cloudly will enjoy this seafaring tale that sheds light on a horrible environmental mess that needs the attention of young, energetic people to hopefully turn it around. 
Ms. Yingling


  1. I never liked science-y books but I think I would have been intrigued by a summer at sea, almost like the boarding school stories I loved.

  2. Wow, how cool is that for a teen, to go on a research ship and spend time at sea. I love the emphasis on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and kids alerting the world to this big ecological disaster. This book teaches, but is also a good read.

    1. Ms. Yingling6:57 PM EDT

      I had some problems commented on other blogs today as well. Technology is great when it works. I had problems with really inappropriate spammers a while back, so had to make sure I moderated comments, which isn't great.

  3. My comment disappeared??