The Benefits of Being An Octopus

The Benefits of Being An Octopus

Book - 2018
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Seventh-grader Zoey Albro focuses on caring for three younger siblings and avoiding rich classmates at school until her fascination with octopuses gets her on the debate team and she begins to speak out.
Publisher: New York : Sky Pony Press, [2018]
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2018
ISBN: 9781510737488
Branch Call Number: J BRADEN
Characteristics: 254 pages ; 21 cm


From Library Staff

Joining the school debate team helps Zoey understand there are multiple sides to every situation, including problems at home and a scary incident at school.

Children's fiction. Seventh-grader Zoey Albro focuses on caring for three younger siblings and avoiding rich classmates at school until her fascination with octopuses gets her on the debate team and she begins to speak out.

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JCLS_Ashland_Kristin Aug 10, 2020

There aren't many recent middle grade novels that deal with children living in poverty that aren't also African American titles (and that's a problem on many levels, but not one to be dealt with in a review for this specific book). While the author tried to tackle a lot here, not all of it successfully, this is a great non-judgmental look at children navigating poverty and figuring out how to move towards more positive outcomes.

Sep 14, 2019

I had a hard time reading this book, but the audio book was really good and gave a great voice to the characters. The reader was fantastic and made listening to the difficult subjects brought up in this book, easier to digest.

Jun 26, 2019

Really good, loved the characters, felt authentic compared to what I've heard from people in similar situations. LOVED the hope at the end. Also, makes me wonder how I can help a kid that is having those experiences.

Mar 02, 2019

It's hard to be poor, and this book goes all-in on showing that. Zoey can't keep up her grades -- despite being demonstrably intelligent -- because she never has time or resources to finish her homework. Her situation is all too real for many kids, both in the United States and in other parts of the world. She felt like an authentic character with depth and troubles and wishing things were different. I appreciated that the teacher didn't magically convince her with one pep talk to make things different, but instead, continued to support Zoey as best she could. Everything in this book is fictional, but it feels all too real.

The optimistic ending keeps this novel firmly in middle-grade territory, but it does still deal with some fairly heavy subjects. Everything is approached in age-appropriate ways, though, making this an excellent book for kids and adults to read and discuss together. (In fact, some adult politicians might do well to read it, to understand just what some of their constituents are going through.)

Hand to low-income readers who rarely see themselves reflected, or to readers who don't understand the complexities of income inequality in action. (It pairs well with Amal Unbound, which tackles somewhat similar income and gender inequality in Pakistan.)

Dec 05, 2018

The benefits of reading this book are a least as many as the legs on an octopus. 1) You learn more about octopuses (including the proper way to refer to them in plural). Our protagonist (Zoey) refers often to her desires to do this or that as an octopus would adding an intriguing narrative to the story. 2) Middle graders living in poverty will be able to see themselves in a book. 3) Zoey learns about the world of debate and uses the skills she sees in others to analyze and make changes in her life. 4) A teacher reaches out to bridge a gap and make a difference. 5) Middle graders learn about how to identify an abusive situation and where to turn for help. 6) Zoey is a model for nurturing younger siblings. 7) Problem-solving is clearly demonstrated. 8) The gun issue is presented from both sides and reminds middle graders that when you add real people into the mix it is more complicated and not just a black and white issue. Highly recommended for 5th grade and up!


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