Review of Consider the Octopus

Consider the Octopus Consider the Octopus
by Nora Raleigh Baskin and Gae Polisner
Intermediate    Godwin/Holt    272 pp.   g
4/22    978-1-250-79351-5    $16.99
e-book ed.  978-1-250-79352-2    $9.99

Jeremy’s mom tasks him with inviting famous scientists to a symposium on her sea-bound research ship, which is testing out a tool for cleaning up the Great Pacific ­Garbage Patch. He mistakenly sends adult scientist Sidney Miller’s invitation to twelve-year-old podcaster Sidney Miller, who needs to fill her summer with educational and interactive experiences so her parents don’t haul her off to camp. Jeremy agrees to smuggle the younger Sidney (and her goldfish, Rachel Carson) onto the ship instead of admitting his mistake, and the two commit to keeping her presence a secret from the adults onboard. Gregarious Jeremy, who is more interested in sports than science, and introverted Sidney, who has become entranced with the concept of synchronicity, quickly go from mismatched odd couple to dedicated friends with a shared secret. They eventually get caught, of course, but not before their social media advocacy brings the media coverage Jeremy’s mother needs to keep her project funded. Nuanced layers of story take the book beyond its initial quirkiness: Jeremy’s reaction to his parents’ divorce, Sidney’s close relationship with her grandmother, the challenges of sustaining interest in long-term scientific work. The narrative’s nonlinear structure, with sections alternating between Jeremy’s and Sidney’s points of view and flashbacks that develop the characters and reveal how they got to the ship, makes for an engaging read; and the nautical setting is richly developed.

From the July/August 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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