Wednesday, October 31, 2018

What Octopuses Do for Halloween #OctopusMonth

So! It's the last day of #OctopusMonth ... and it's Halloween! Which is kind of perfect, as octopuses are masters of disguise, and this is, of course, a dress-up holiday. Here is our last poem of the month, a zeno by Margaret Simon:

Changing color camouflaging
boneless bodies
of the

Thank you, Margaret! I love that broken "mimic/ry," and I know Agnes does, too. :) In fact, Agnes has a message for those of us who are parents, teachers, or anyone who works with and loves children:

Dear Beautiful Babies, 

Watch out for crabs! And other octopuses. (Some of them think they are SO SMART.) If you find the perfect home, make sure it's empty before you move in. And then? Hunt. Sleep. Swim! Remember, you are the reason for everything. 

Kids are the reason for everything.

the real Jack Henry!
And, in case you were wondering: that seal in the spread has a name, as of last Saturday! I was giving a reading at Dauphin Island Sea Lab, and a man asked what was the seal's name. I said, "What your name?" He said, "Phillippe." So, voila! Meet Phillippe! :)

Also, there's a little brother in the book, who is never pictured, only named. His name has an interesting origin, too. A local school asked if I would donate to their school auction a "Character Named for You in a Future Book." Of course I said yes, because what fun! The winner was a young fellow named Jack Henry... so that's the little brother in the book.. Isn't the real Jack Henry adorable?!

So many thanks to everyone for sharing your words and art and hearts with me to celebrate LOVE, AGNES this #OctopusMonth. It's been such fun for me! xo

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

2 for Tuesday octopus poems by Diane Mayr and Sarah Burns for #OctopusMonth

It's hard for me to believe that #OctopusMonth is nearly over... today's 2-for-Tuesday features poems with artsy connections. First, here's a cherita from Diane Mayr:

for a moment he wonders

could he be at home
in the sunlight?

octopus hurry scurries
back to the twilight zone
a better fit in so many ways

- Diane Mayr
Oh that twilight zone... it is a great place for a secretive, solitary octopus!

And now, here's one inspired by a piece of art you may recognize from #OctopusMonth twitter feed earlier in the month: Sarah Burns' treasure picked up in Hawaii now has a poem (by Sarah!) to go with it! 


This particular Pacific Octopus
glides up from the depths of the sea
into my dining room.

Caught off the coast of Maui,
she is revered for astonishing
acrobatic feats,
and delectable flavor.

All her elegant limbs – count them!
drenched in colored paint
pressed onto this black cloth
to live on forever
as a work of art.

~ Sarah Burns
Octopuses ARE works of art, aren't they? Thank you! See you tomorrow for our final day of #OctopusMonth.

Monday, October 29, 2018

"The Wondrous Wonderpus" octopus poem by Catherine Flynn #OctopusMonth

The Wondrous Wonderpus
by Catherine Flynn

Secretive wonderpus,
elusive and shy,

Lurks in the half-light at day’s edge.
Arrayed with cinnamon and white stripes,
she is a ripple of color
hiding in ripples of sand.
One minute her boneless arms
are sleek and serpentine as she races
along the sea bed, searching
for a meal of shrimp or crab.

Then she slows with a swish and a swirl,
tentacles fluttering like ribbons
in a tropical breeze and
transforms into a sea star.
Protected by her supple
body, she disappears
arm by pliant arm, into
her sandy burrow to sleep.
Secretive wonderpus,
elusive and shy.

A wondrous poem, isn't it? I love ripple and ripples, swish and swirl, those ribbons... this poem would turn anyone into an octopus-lover! Thank you, Catherine. xo

By Jenny (JennyHuang) from Taipei (Flickr)
[CC BY 2.0  (],
via Wikimedia Commons

Friday, October 26, 2018

"A Journey to Make a Friend" octopus poem by Linda Baie for #OctopusMonth

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Kay at A Journey Through the Pages for Roundup.

It's the final Poetry Friday of #OctopusMonth, but please stay tuned next week for poems from Catherine Flynn and Diane Mayr... and a special "Goodbye" from Agnes!

This week it's been an honor to feature:

a look at Oceans: Our Blue Planet (which features a Giant Pacific Octopus)
A 2-for-Tuesday with octo-poems by Linda Mitchell and Pat Cruzan
"The Octopus Way" by Brenda Davis Harsham
Octopus art by Barbara Bell (and a wee 3-hearted poem by me!)

Remember, you can find all of the #Octopus Month links on the Happy Octopus Month padlet.

Today I am delighted to share a friendly octopus who is reaching across the currents to Agnes....

A Journey To Make A Friend
                       for Irene Latham “Octopus Month”

Cracker Barrel octopus
I plan to meet an octopus
who uses ink in clever ways.
This Agnes composes postcards,
perhaps a newfound kind of play?

I am traveling to greet her,
to learn new ways to use my eight.
It’s lonely as an octopus.
I would delight in a new mate.

Though I may never find her near
the west Pacific where I roam,
I have impressed some scientists
for use of tools to make a home.

I gather shells and human glass
to pile a shelter of debris;
Special is a coconut shell,
a favorite just-right place for me.  
Chattanooga Blue Skies octopus

I’m satisfied my size is right -
3-inch frame, 6-inch arms full-grown.
I can embrace the tightest place;
but when I’m out, bi-pedal home.

I live in sandy, muddy shores.
Because I’m likely to be prey,
I take my meals from dusk to dawn,
daylight’s my time for hideaway.

Phenomenal and small and wise,
Agnes (I hope) has read of me.
I am the veined octopus
evolving in the western seas.

Don't you just love this little guy?! Here is a picture of the veined octopus. Agnes is grateful to Linda for educating her about another octo-species! Friends above and below the waves... yes, life is good. Thank you! xo

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Octopus art by Barbara Bell (and a poem) #OctopusMonth

Barbara Bell is an artist with a studio in Rockvillle, Maryland. She's always been a big fan of sea critters, especially of the cephalopod variety. She painted this piece after a visit in 2015 to the Waikiki Aquarium in Honolulu. I am in love! You can also view the painting in the "Sea" section of her website,

"Hawaii"      22" x 30" watercolor
And, because I couldn't resist, here is a small poem to go with Barbara's painting:

Dream with Three Hearts 
by Irene Latham

blue morning

origami octopus

ocean breathes

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

"The Octopus Way" poem by Brenda Davis Harsham #OctopusMonth

The Octopus Way

A sailing ship tacks her way,
Octopus rides.

Towering tall kelp uncurls,
Octopus slides.

A diver darts from the shadows,
Octopus hides.

Sunbeams slant into the depths,
Octopus glides.


Ooh, I love that riding sliding hiding gliding octopus, don't you?! Thank you, Brenda!

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

2 For Tuesday: Octopus Poems by Linda Mitchell & Pat Cruzan #OctopusMonth

Celebrate Cephalopods
by Linda Mitchell

I didn’t know, did you?
Cephalopod Week
is third week of June
a date octopuses keep
Octo-plumber (contributed by
Linda Baie!)

With backward swims
scouting out prey
All eight of their limbs
hunt festive entrées

An Octopus parties alone
they’re really quite shy
if you find one at  home
she’ll squirt you with dye

Her masquerade ink
An off-putting greeting
Hiding from you
is all she’s needing

If you choose to observe
cephalopod week this June
show some reserve
party quietly your room
An Octopus
by Patricia Cruzan

With his central brain
and ganglion arms,
Mr. Octopus outsmarts
his crafty predators.
another octo-book!
Love that it features another
mollusk on its cover...
thank you, Linda!

An octopus shoots
an inky black cloud,
breaking free from enemies
as he dulls the smell sense.

His unusual way
of mimicking surroundings
helps him escape,
gracefully, through oceans.

This mollusk crams into
a crevice or a crack
as he twists his body,
avoiding his foe.

So there's a Cephalopod Week in June, and World Octopus Day in October... but we can celebrate octopuses and their amazing-ness every day in our own backward-swimming way! Thank you, ladies. Agnes is honored by your words. xo

Monday, October 22, 2018

Movie Monday: OCEANS: OUR BLUE PLANET for #OctopusMonth

This past weekend my sister and I met at a longtime favorite place: the Tennessee Aquarium. So many thanks to the Aquarium education department for hosting us!

While there we visited the resident octopus and also viewed the IMAX film OCEANS: OUR BLUE PLANET, narrated by Kate Winslet. The film starts in the tropics and then travels all across the seven seas. Through amazing video footage, narration and music, it reminded us that the ocean is the great wild frontier of our planet, with so much still to be discovered. You can view the trailer on YouTube.

Agnes, just hanging
with the other mollusks
I was spellbound by the early slow-mo footage of giant waves... breathtaking! And yes, there was a segment about a giant Pacific Octopus! It, too, was stunning. The octopus complete disguised itself by using its suckers to hold a bunch of shells. It looked like a mound of coral, so the cruising shark could smell it, but not get to it! Octopuses are so graceful as they move through the deep -- absolutely gorgeous.

So, yes, go see the movie, if it's anywhere near you! And take a look at how at home AGNES looks in the gift shop? :) My sister is an amazing photographer, and she took a lot of pictures during our time at Tennessee Aquarium... I will share as soon as I am able! Meanwhile, here's two pictures from my phone that I adore -- one that's not octo at all... and the other that's 100% octo! Enjoy!

blue morpho butterfly
hitching a ride on Lynn's bag

a gift from LTG :)

Friday, October 19, 2018

"Moving in the dark" octopus poem by Jan Godown Annino #OctopusMonth

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Brenda for a Bee's Knees of a Roundup at Friendly Fairy Tales. 

This week we've had some happy octopus posts in celebration of #OctopusMonth, including:

Endangered Tree Octopus poems by Donna JT Smith (haven't heard of the endangered tree octopus? Remedy that, right now!)

"Can't Catch Me!" by Kay McGriff

See all the links so far this month at the Happy Octopus Month padlet.

And today, it is my pleasure to share a beauty that could also be titled "What Agnes Wants." I love it! And so does Agnes. Thank you, Jan!

Moving in the dark

Agnes the octopus wants no
                                                    night light
                                                    flash light
                                                    head light
                                                    street light

to pierce her deep dark highway
of sea water

Floating in the dark is her lark
how she makes her mark
secret nest
inky depths

Agnes the octopus wants to
                                                  tumble, twirl
                                                  glide, slide
                                                  creep, crawl
                                                  breathe, brawl

Eating in the dark is her lark
how she makes her mark
a bulbous head
army of appendages

Agnes the octopus wants no
                                                   night light
                                                    flash light
                                                    head light
                                                    street light
Beautiful, isn't it?

Thursday, October 18, 2018

ROOF OCTOPUS by Lucy Branam #OctopusMonth

Back in September, I attended SCBWI Midouth conference, and lo and behold, there was another octopus book in the house! It was ROOF OCTOPUS, there with its author, Lucy Branam (illus. by Rogerio Coelho, brought to us by Sleeping Bear Press). So I invited Lucy to share with us about her new book. 

Welcome, Lucy!

The difficult: I would say the most difficult part about creating Roof Octopus was waiting for it to actually become a physical book.
The release date got changed three times because there were delays involved with getting the artwork finished. It started out having an August 2017 date, then September 2017, then November 2017, and then it was finally marked for release and actually came out on March 1
st, 2018. It was frustrating how it kept being moved, but the wait was worth it.
Lucy Branam
The delicious I would call the illustrations by Rogério Coelho delicious. They are so vibrant and full of life. All the colors and details really add to the story. The cover alone is very eye-catching with the big orange octopus and all the blue buildings and background. I could never have created such amazing pictures.
The unexpected: I’ve surprised myself by how much I have loved presenting my book to children. I’ve done a few school visits and participated in some Ready to Be Ready summer camps. I enjoy reading it to the kids and talking to them about how my book came about. I get a thrill when I do a brainstorming activity with kids, and I see them using their imaginations and having fun with it. I get happy feelings when someone tells me that they really liked my book.  
Anything else: I have acquired a few octopus-themed things since Roof Octopus came about: two stuffed animals, a paperweight, a gold table decoration, socks, an ink stamp, poster, magnet, and even a pair of earrings!  
Thank you, Lucy! (I, too, have accumulated some octopus items! So. Much. Fun. :)

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

"Can't Catch Me!" Octopus Poem by Kay McGriff for #OctopusMonth

Can’t Catch Me!
by Kay Jernigan McGriff

Ollie ollie oxen free -
I bet you’ll never catch me.

I can change how I am seen
by matching colors in my scene.

Ollie ollie oxen free -
Bet you cannot find me.

I can squirt a cloud of ink -
then jet off before you blink.

Ollie ollie oxen free -
Now you’ll never see me.

I can even shed an arm
to escape much further harm.

Ollie ollie oxen free -
You just thought you caught me.

I can grow a new arm now.
There’s no need to have a cow !

Ollie ollie oxen free -
That’s a trick you seldom see.

If by chance you grab me tight,
watch out for my deadly bite.

Ollie ollie oxen free -
you mustn’t ever catch me.

I can even build a den
with the rocks I lift again.

Ollie ollie oxen free -
I bet you’ll never catch me.

This octopus is a trickster...and knows it. :) I love the voice and the rhythm and how very many octopus facts are included. Thank you, Kay! xo

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Endangered Tree Octopus poems by Donna JT Smith #OctopusMonth

Learn about the endangered tree octopus, which inspired Donna's poems!

And now read the Snopes article about it. :)

Octopus’  Adventure

An octopus climbed out on land
Away from his home in the sea
And the one thing he wanted to do
Was climb eight-armed up a tree.

He scanned the skies overhead
Remarked on it’s light aqua hue
And pondered the eiders in flight
Who also duck-dove in deep blue.

In the branches he spied a gray spider
With eight legs as he, only smaller,
She was building a web to catch lunch
Like the net of a fisherman’s trawler.

Then he climbed down to wet his whistle,
Where he grabbed a salt-free iced drink,
He chose lemonade with a cherry,
Then he lifted eight glasses to clink.

An octopus on land would be marvelous
An exciting sight to behold
But an octopus wouldn’t remain here
Out of water - deep, dark and cold.

Oxygen in air is useless,
To an octopus out of his reef.
He must return to his world soon
He can hold his breath, but it’s brief!

Numbered Arms

One arm shaded eyes 
  as he scanned the skies
  another held onto a limb
     (the kind on a tree)
Two arms on hips…
  or were they his lips
  the fifth scratched under his chin
     (where would that be?)
Number six grasped a flower
  his symbol of power -
  to stay out of water was brave!
     (or foolhardy)
Seven wiped tears from eyes
  then eight waved good-bye,
  as he slipped back under the waves.
     (pool party!)

Ha! He lifted eight glasses (in the first poem). :) And I especially love the parentheticals in the second poem. Thank you, Donna, for introducing me to this (fake) species!