Wonderful Books From the Past: Cowboy and Octopus


Cowboy and Octopus is an endearing tale of a not-so-likely friendship between a stereotypical cowboy and a rather intelligent octopus. Cowboy meets Octopus during a chance encounter at what Cowboy thinks is a broken seesaw. Octopus shows Cowboy how to use the seesaw correctly, thus leading to the decision to become friends:

“So Cowboy and Octopus shake hands…and shake hands, and shake hands, and shake hands, and shake hands, and shake hands, and shake hands, and shake hands.”

With their new friendship intact, Cowboy and Octopus go around and participate in typical friend activities. For example, Octopus asks Cowboy to help him build a toy boat, and later Cowboy surprises Octopus with a homemade meal of Cowboy’s favorite food. Cowboy also offers Octopus advice on his Halloween costume and, later on, his hat. Octopus attempts to share a knock-knock joke with Cowboy, but the punch line goes terribly awry. Of course, that in and of itself, is enough to laugh about.

The artwork in this book exemplifies the truly unique style that can be found in many of Scieszka and Smith’s books. They use a collage medium that encompasses many different pictures, ranging from real photographs to comic book images. There are very eclectic headings on each page that begins a new friendship adventure that resembles a cross between a very attractive scrapbook and a ransom letter.

The wonderful thing about Scieszka and Smith’s work is that it’s different. There are not a lot of books out there that capture the amazing intertwining of witty writing and one-of-a-kind illustrations. This book would be a great tool for providing children with examples of how different books can be. Scieszka and Smith really know how to push the envelope in the children’s literature world. And after listening to Scieszka at the Southern Festival of Books, I wouldn’t expect anything less.

Check out Jon Scieszka’s website for more laughs.

Happy Reading!


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