Written and Illustrated by Tao Nyeu
Dial Books for Young Readers, 2012
One chilly day, Squid knit eight beautiful socks.
The plot in a nutshell: There are four stories in the book, all about a squid and an octopus who are best friends.
Do you love cute things? If so, then put this book on your ‘must have’ list. From the adorable artwork to the sweet and funny stories, it just doesn’t get much cuter than this. Author/illustrator Tao Nyeu has given us two lovable characters who exist in a world full of equally cute supporting characters. Through these four stories, we get to see them argue and make up, share their dreams and fears and mostly, encourage and support each other. I was in love with this book before the first story ended.
Ms. Nyeu began her career as a graphic designer, but left when she discovered that drawing was more fun. (I always give mad props to those people who use ‘fun’ as their primary career motivation.) Her art medium is water-based ink and silkscreen, which works perfectly to convey a whimsical underwater world in this book. In addition to our main characters, the book is also occupied by various lobsters, fish and eels who provide hilarious commentary and opinions as the stories progress. There’s also a very clever moment when Squid is telling about how he had X-ray vision in his dream (of being Super Squid) and the accompanying page features a submarine with a cover you can remove to see inside, which allows the reader to share the X-ray vision experience Squid enjoyed.
Each story has its own charm and humor, but my favorite is probably The Dream. I think everyone deserves a friend who thinks they are wonderful all the time and in this story, we get to see Octopus playing that role for Squid. (And honestly, if Squid really did come up with the idea for Tickle Mondays, he probably is just as wonderful as Octopus thinks he is.) This was the first of Ms. Nyeu’s books that I’ve read, and I’ve already added her other works, Wonder Bear and Bunny Days, to my library list. Do yourself a favor and do the same.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that life is full of fun when you share it with a friend. (This is the tagline on the back of the book. It’s simple, but very true…and I found that I couldn’t improve on it.)