When I first heard that there was going to be a children's book version of the Beatles song Octopus's Garden I was a little bit sceptical as to quite how it was going to work. I mean, we all know the song, but just how would a child relate to the lyrics in printed form?
It was back in 1968 when Ringo Starr first composed Octopus's Garden after the captain of Peter Sellers' yacht told him about how octopuses trawl the sea bed looking for shiny stones and other objects that they then put in front of their caves, like a front garden. The idea is rather cute really and this has been brought to life in Ben Cort's illustrations which accompany Ringo's lyrics in this book. There is loads for children to look at and spot in them and they are bright and very attractive.
Being based on a song, there's not really a story to follow in the book meaning that it didn't work all that well for us as a bedtime read, but in the middle of the afternoon it was perfect, especially as we could also put on the accompanying CD which has a recording of Ringo reading the story and a new version of the song. Little Miss C loved dancing around the front room to it and seemed very excited about the idea of "someone singing my new book". I also pointed out to her that the man reading the story was also on Thomas the Tank Engine and I think she's now a fully paid up member of the Ringo fan club as a result.
On a practical level there was only one thing about the book which I didn't like. For a couple of double page spreads you have to turn the book into a portrait mode as the pictures have been drawn that way to suggest the depth beneath the surface. But, on one occasion you need to turn the book clockwise to get this, and on another anti-clockwise. I'm not sure if this is a strange printing error, or by design, but for little ones holding books it is quite confusing when you have to turn it different directions (and confusing for tired sleep-deprived parents too).
I just have one remaining question. Shouldn't the title be Octopus' Garden? Or maybe even Octopuses' Garden? Or is this just what people did with apostrophes in the 1960s???
Disclaimer: We were sent a copy of Octopus's Garden to review by publishers Simon and Schuster.
Octopus's Garden is published by Simon and Schuster on 24 October 2013. ISBN: 978-1-47112-007-7