Monday, November 25, 2019

THAT for Dinner? Octopus Stew by Eric Velasquez

When grandma saw my painting of Super Octo, she got the idea to make pulpo guisado, octopus stew, not exactly my favorite dish.

"But Dad makes that," I said.

Grandma snapped at me. "I've been making pulpo guisado since your dad era un nino, since he was a boy!"

Ramsey knows better than to argue with Grandma when she's on a roll, so he follows orders to remove his superhero cape and keep his phone in his pocket and goes shopping with her to find just the right octopus.

And when Grandma cooks, she goes BIG.
Grandma picked the biggest octopus in the store.

It looked like it was still alive...

and kind of creepy.

Ramsey googles directions for prepping octopuses for stew, but Grandma orders him to put that phone away, so he watches from a safe distance as Grandma washes the octopus and drops it in her biggest stew pot on the stove. But when he hears some scary noises from the kitchen, Ramsey has to investigate.


The giant octopus is out of the pot and grabbing Grandma!

It's up to Ramsey to use his superhero powers to rescue his grandmother...or is this just another octopus tall tale?

In his latest, Octopus Stew (Holiday House, 2019), for extra fun, author-illustrator Velasquez offers two alternate endings for this wild tale: in one, donning his superman cape, Ramsey fights his way through black octopus ink spray to free Grandma--and in a four-page gatefold there's an alternate ending, as Ramsey's dad questions his story as too far-fetched.
"DAD! It's my turn to tell the story tonight! May I please finish now?"

And in a surprising conclusion, the whole family sits down with an octopus for dinner--in more ways than one. Not only does the author offer a glossary of Spanish words, but also the family recipe for octopus stew. The award-winning Velasquez is a master story teller in words and in vivid acrylic art work, this newest picture book goes big in exaggerated tale-telling. As Publishers Weekly describes it, "Oil paintings by Velasquez have a lush, generously sculptural feel—a heightened comic realism that's perfect for this domestic tall tale, its multi-armed nemesis, and the wonderful gatefold twist that occurs at the action's height."

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