Octopus Stew

Book review by
Carrie Kingsley, Common Sense Media
Octopus Stew Book Poster Image
Octopus adventure celebrates imagination, Latinx culture.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Reflects Latinx culture. Includes a Spanish-to-English glossary, an octopus stew recipe, and lots of imagination.

Positive Messages

Celebrate your own culture and see the value in others. Use your imagination and your quick wits.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Ramsey's family is close, offers fun and tradition through storytelling and food.

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Eric Velasquez's Octopus Stew is a delightful tall tale that celebrates Latinx culture and an adventurous spirit. The colorful illustrations exude warmth and humor, bringing readers into the heart of the family of a boy named Ramsey. The twist in the story is that it can be read two ways, depending on whether the flaps of the center pages are open or closed. Spanish words and phrases are sprinkled throughout and translated into English only when it doesn't interrupt the flow of the story, which is a lovely demonstration of both storytelling and the way multiple cultures can blend together. At the end of the book, there's a recipe for octopus stew, a glossary, and a note from the author about his early family life.

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What's the story?

In OCTOPUS STEW, young, cape-wearing Ramsey isn't thrilled when his grandma decides to make octopus stew for dinner. At the grocery store, he's sure the octopus is still alive, and things get even worse when they get home and his grandma puts it in the pot. The octopus comes to life and becomes enormous, leaving Ramsey and his superhero ideas to save his grandma in time. There are two ways to read the book: Open the flaps of the middle pages and see it as Ramsey telling his family a story, or leave the flaps closed and it's all about Ramsey and the octopus.

Is it any good?

This funny adventure is visually rich and full of imagination, and gives readers a glimpse of Latinx storytelling traditions through the eyes of a young boy. The back-and-forth between Ramsey and his grandma will be familiar to many families, as will his dislike of eating foods grown-ups love. Octopus Stew is a great read-aloud book, with lots of "blop" and "kerchunk" sound effects as things with the octopus go incredibly wrong. The Spanish words and phrases throughout the book will be fun for native speakers and a chance to learn for others. And the octopus stew recipe at the end of the book could lead adventurous cooks to the kitchen.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Octopus Stew reminds them of their own family's food. What traditional food does your family eat that it seems like only the adults enjoy?

  • How does your family share stories?

  • What makes a story a "tall tale"? What other books have you read that seem like tall tales?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love Latinx stories and bilingual books

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