The Benefits of Being an Octopus – Ann Braden

The Benefits of Being an Octopus

by Ann Braden

Sky Pony Press 2018 – 256 Pages – Genre: Realistic Fiction

Review by EMS Librarian Heather Overstreet

“How is it possible to have no visible cage around you, but to be so trapped?” (p.208)

Zoey loves learning about the octopus.  She imagines how much easier her life would be if she had eight arms (especially dealing with her two younger brothers and sister) and could change her appearance to disappear into the background (her special talent). 

Zoey has had an uncertain life.  Moving from place to place. Taking care of her younger siblings every day after school while her mother works.  Never having the time to get her homework done. Now they are living with Lenny, her mom’s boyfriend. He has a nice trailer where everything is clean and tidy, but Lenny’s dad is always yelling at Zoey or the other kids about something.  Lenny and her mom argue a lot too. Her mom can’t seem to do anything right lately, at least according to Lenny. They have no car, not much money, and nowhere to go. What would an octopus do, Zoey wonders?

An eye-opening tale about homelessness, abuse, and so much more.  I promise this book is worth every minute you spend reading it!

Read alikes: Fish in a Tree, The Bridge Home, The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl

Named an NPR Best Book of 2018

Named to the Bank Street List for Best Children’s Books of 2019

Named to Vermont’s 2019-2020 Dorothy Canfield Fisher List

Named to Maine’s 2019-2020 Student Book Award List

Named to Rhode Island’s Middle School Book Award 2020 List​

Named to Oklahoma’s Intermediate Sequoyah Book Award List

Named to Missouri’s 2020-2021 Truman Book Award List

Named to Virginia’s Middle School Reader’s Choice List

Named to South Carolina’s 2020-2021 Junior Book Award List