1. Have you ever seen an octopus or a starfish? Where would you go to find one? Some other interesting creatures you might try to find are squids, otters, eels, and dolphins.
Octopuses and dolphins are among the smartest creatures in the ocean, and yet they are very different. Why would they need to be so smart?
2. While writing this book, Ellen Byerrum was told by an “expert” on children’s books not to write it in rhyme. Ms. Byerrum decided to write this book in rhyme and meter anyway. What is rhyme and what is meter?
Do you like the use of poetry in this book? How would it be different without the rhymes? How would you decide whether to follow the advice of an “expert” or to do something your own way?
3. Some people once used smelly “red herrings” to get hunting dogs to follow the wrong trail, instead of what they were supposed to follow. According to Wikipedia, the term is now used for any fact that leads someone’s attention in the wrong direction.
A “red herring” can be a true fact, but not be a true clue. How can this be?
When you want to learn more about what a word or phrase means and where it came from, how would you find out?
4. An artist named Jacqueline Berkman-Glatigny illustrated this story. She had to make pictures that look like they are under water.
What techniques did she use to give an underwater impression? You might like to try creating an underwater picture of your own.
5. Sherlock Holmes is a famous detective in fiction. He solves mysteries by being smart, observant and logical. There have been books, movies and television shows about Sherlock and his friend Dr. Watson. The original Sherlock Holmes and an octopus have some characteristics in common. Can you think of some?
Sherlock Holmes is a very smart person. An octopus is a very smart animal. Can you find examples of this? Sherlock Holmes is a master of disguise, and so is an octopus. Both Sherlock and an octopus can change their appearance. Can you think of times when a disguise would be useful?
Sherlock Holmes has a friend named Dr. Watson who helps him investigate crimes and mysteries. In this book, Sherlocktopus Holmes has a friend named Dr. Flotsam, a starfish. In what ways is Dr. Flotsam like Dr. Watson?
6. What songs might accompany this book?
One song is “Octopus’s Garden” by the Beatles. You also might try to find “Minnie the Mermaid” and “The Tale of the Oyster.”
My thanks to my friend Lila Steele
for many of these suggestions!