The Octopus Scientists: Exploring the Mind of a Mollusk
by Sy Montgomery; Photographs by Keith Ellenbogen
HMH Books for Young Readers (May 26, 2015)
Nonfiction * Octopuses * Marine Life
Audience: Grades 5-9
Teacher Guide & Discussion Questions
IndieBound | WorldCat
Description of the book:
With three hearts and blue blood, its gelatinous body unconstrained by jointed limbs or gravity, the octopus seems to be an alien, an inhabitant of another world. Its baggy, boneless body sprouts eight arms covered with thousands of suckers—suckers that can taste as well as feel. The octopus also has the powers of a superhero: it can shape-shift, change color, squirt ink, pour itself through the tiniest of openings, or jet away through the sea faster than a swimmer can follow.
But most intriguing of all, octopuses—classed as mollusks, like clams—are remarkably intelligent with quirky personalities. This book, an inquiry into the mind of an intelligent invertebrate, is also a foray into our own unexplored planet. These thinking, feeling creatures can help readers experience and understand our world (and perhaps even life itself) in a new way.
Thoughts on the book:
One of the newest Scientist in the Field books is The Octopus Scientists by the team of Sy Montgomery and Keith Ellenbogen. This latest addition to the series will grab readers and draw them into the world of the Pacific Giant Octopus. As someone who has been fascinated by marine biology, it wasn't hard to lose myself in Montgomery's often vivid text. However, I couldn't help but think about how children would react to the stories of the octopuses found in this book. I even imagined how Carrie Gelson's students might respond if she read this aloud to them.
Montgomery opens the world of the Pacific Giant Octopus by taking readers on a trip to the island of Moorea, near Tahiti. She joins a team of scientists lead by Professor Jennifer Mather. The team is eager to find octopuses and study their environments looking at things like where they make their homes, what they eat, but what was most striking was the interest in both the intelligence of the octos and their personalities. Yes, their personalities. I never thought of an octopus as having feelings or distinct personalities. It was fascinating to find out that an octopus turns white when s/he is relaxed and that s/he can tell the difference between various people that have interacted with them.
The Octopus Scientists is filled with amazing facts and informations about octopuses but more it is a story of truly incredible creatures. Check out below the short video of an octopus at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and also Sy Montgomery's TEDX Talk where she shares about her first encounter with an octopus.
Look for The Octopus Scientists at your local independent bookstore or public library.
Fun video from the Monterey Bay Aquarium:
TEDx Talks: Sy Montgomery:
About the author:
"Part Indiana Jones, part Emily Dickinson," as the "Boston Globe" describes her, Sy Montgomery is an author, naturalist, documentary scriptwriter, and radio commentator who has traveled to some of the world's most remote wildernesses for her work. She has worked in a pit crawling with 18,000 snakes in Manitoba, been hunted by a tiger in India, swum with pink dolphins in the Amazon, and been undressed by an orangutan in Borneo. She is the author of 13 award-winning books, including her national best-selling memoir, "The Good Good Pig". Montgomery lives in Hancock, New Hampshire.
Keith Ellenbogen is an award-winning underwater photographer with an emphasis on environmental conservation. His images have been published worldwide in newspapers, magazines, and books as well as on TV. Keith is a Sr. fellow with the international League of Conservation Photographers and an assistant professor of photography at the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York. He previously worked with Sy Montgomery on the bookThe Octopus Scientists: Exploring the Mind of a Mollusk.
Don't forget to link up your nonfiction review: