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Arlo Draws an Octopus

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When Arlo decides to draw an octopus, he can’t help but think that maybe he’s just not an octopus drawer. His drawing has a head that looks like a hill and eight squiggly arms that look like roads. It’s an octopus disaster-piece! But just as Arlo vows to never draw an octopus again, he makes a discovery that changes his perspective about his drawing . . . and much more.

40 pages, Hardcover

Published May 4, 2021

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About the author

Lori Mortensen

88 books23 followers
Lori Mortensen is an award-winning children's author of more than 100 books. Her books, which reviewers have praised as “stellar” “as good as it gets” and “begs to be read aloud,” have been published by such notable publishers as HarperCollins, Henry Holt, Abrams, Bloomsbury, and Peachtree. Popular releases include, Arlo Draws an Octopus, illustrated by NYT bestselling author/illustrator Rob Sayegh, Jr., If Wendell Had a Walrus, illustrated by NYT bestselling author/illustrator Matt Phelan, Cowpoke Clyde Rides the Range, a Bill Martin Jr., Picture Book Award Nominee and the sequel to Amazon bestseller Cowpoke Clyde and Dirty Dawg, and picture book biographies Nonsense! The Curious Story of Edward Gorey and Away with Words, the Daring True Story of Explorer Isabella Bird.
When she’s not greeting geese at the lake, or putting her nose in a mystery, she’s tapping away at her keyboard, conjuring, coaxing, and prodding her latest stories to life. Today, she lives in the foothills of Northern California with her family and all birds that flock to her feeder—including a gluttonous squirrel.

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5 stars
52 (21%)
4 stars
107 (44%)
3 stars
76 (31%)
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8 (3%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 54 reviews
Profile Image for Flossmoor Public Library (IL).
641 reviews8 followers
October 4, 2021
5 stars

This picture book was adorable! It was the steps of a child drawing an octopus and overanalyzing everything he draws. There is a surprise twist part way through the book that helps give him a better outlook and perspective on his drawing. The writer of this was so very, very clever and witty! It was so enjoyable to read and see what language would come up next. (Example: The frustrated protagonist wadded up and threw a “bad” drawing, but then went and picked it up again because he was taught not to litter…. So funny!!!). I highly recommend this book!

~ Miss Emily
Profile Image for Ryan.
4,465 reviews25 followers
March 10, 2021
Not everyone is good at everything. Some people can not catch popcorn, and some can not do cartwheels (that’s me), and some can not draw octopuses. But art is in the eye of the beholder. And after Arlo makes a friend, he learns to trust and believe in himself. I love how all skin colors are represented in this book. It was a fun read and the illustrator did a great job getting the point across.
Profile Image for Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance.
5,827 reviews284 followers
November 2, 2021
Arlo draws an octopus, but the picture doesn't come out the way he wanted it to come out and he crumples up his picture. Along comes an octopus, disappointed in the drawing he did, who has just crumpled up his picture of Arlo. Arlo takes a look at the octopus' picture and the octopus takes a look at Arlo's picture, and both love the work of the other.

A fresh and fun look at art and drawing and others' perspectives.
Profile Image for Peacegal.
9,945 reviews90 followers
June 2, 2021
Wonderfully clever and cute little story about a kid who doubts his octopus-drawing skills, until he meets a real octopus.
Profile Image for Mutually Inclusive.
113 reviews7 followers
June 21, 2021
Arlo Draws an Octopus by Lori Mortenson is a humorous, uplifting picture book perfect for young readers who might be struggling to believe in themselves.

We follow along as a young boy named Arlo sets out to draw an octopus. He gets off to a rocky start when he thinks his octopus’s head looks too much like a hill, and he doesn’t feel any better about things as he draws the legs and suction cups. Despite his attempts, Arlo just can’t seem to draw his octopus quite the way he sees it in his head. I don’t want to spoil the twist in this one, so I will just say that Arlo thinks he can’t draw an octopus until he meets one in real life.

The illustrations by Rob Sayegh Jr. are wonderful and really bring the story to life. My favorite pages are the ones with Arlo’s drawings, but I really love the way the crayon drawings are incorporated throughout the entire book.

Arlo Draws an Octopus is told with humor and encourages young readers to roll with the punches when things don’t turn out how they expected. It is a great addition to any child’s library, but I think it would be a very helpful resource in classrooms.

Lori Mortenson is an award-winning children’s author of more than 100 books who lives in Northern California. Please visit her website at lorimortensen.com to learn more about her work.

Rob Sayegh Jr. is an author, illustrator, and former toy designer based in San Francisco. To learn more about him and his work, please visit his website at robsayart.com.

Thank you to Abrams Books for Young Readers for sending me a copy of Arlo Draws an Octopus. It was a delight, and I can’t wait to see what Arlo draws next.

Blog | Instagram | Facebook | Goodreads | Storygraph

Profile Image for Olivia.
3,053 reviews70 followers
June 27, 2021
See my full review here: https://www.yabookscentral.com/kidsfi...

ARLO DRAWS AN OCTOPUS is a cute picture book about perfectionism, self-acceptance, and new perspectives. Arlo loves octopuses, and he has decided that he is going to draw one. As he begins to sketch, nothing looks the way he wants it to. The head looks more like a hill, and the arms look more like random roads. He knows that not everyone is good at everything, but he is still upset when it seems nothing like what he had wanted to draw. He crumples it up and throws it, but knowing he shouldn't litter, he goes to pick it up. Instead of picking up his own drawing, he finds someone else's - an octopus had drawn Arlo! Even though the octopus did not like his drawing of Arlo and Arlo did not like his drawing of the octopus, each of them likes the other's drawing and thinks they are good! Arlo begins to realize that maybe his drawing wasn't so bad afterall.

What I loved: This is a cute story for perfectionists to step back and enjoy what they have created, even if it was not exactly what they had in mind. The cute ending to the story is a pleasant surprise, and I love the way they come together with support for what the other has made. Although everyone may not be perfect at everything, the book encourages readers to keep going and enjoy what they have made.

The illustrations are great, and I loved the choices of color and detail as Arlo draws. The font is clear and easy to read, making this a great choice for reading aloud. The book will resonate best with elementary school aged readers, who may have experienced similar feelings to Arlo in their art or writing.

Final verdict: A cute story about self-acceptance and appreciating your work as it is, ARLO DRAWS AN OCTOPUS is a great picture book read for perfectionists. Recommend for elementary school aged readers.

Please note that I received a review copy. All opinions are my own.
70 reviews
April 13, 2023
In this book, a boy named Arlo loves octopuses and so he attempts to draw one, but the picture doesn't come out the way he wanted it to, so he crumples it up. When he goes to retrieve it, there is a real octopus that is disappointed in the drawing he did of Arlo. They both look at each other's pictures and both love the work of the other. This book shows that art is in the eye of the beholder, and everyone has a different perspective on what looks good. After this encounter, he learns to love and appreciate his drawing. This book also shows many different skin tones throughout. I would use this book as an IRA or independent reading book to teach students that it is okay to get frustrated, but that other perspectives are important to see our own self-worth and that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. This could also teach students to not give up and to keep trying, and it promotes resilience.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Carol.
463 reviews6 followers
December 6, 2021
I was underwhelmed after reading this book the first time but it definitely grew on me.The endpapers are fun to explore, both beginning and end. It connects to other books, other characters, such as Vashti The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds and Ramonn Ish by Peter H. Reynolds who don't think their drawings are good enough. Nice variation with the octopus who is experiencing similar self-criticisms, and both end up admiring each other's work. A good story to illustrate that perfect exists only in our minds, and we are our own harshest critics.
Profile Image for Lisa.
2,219 reviews13 followers
April 28, 2021
Arlo wants to draw an Octopus, in fact he is very excited, but once he starts, he doesn't like his drawing, Arlo doesn't think it looks like an octopus at all - so he throw his drawing - but someone else finds it, someone who is also trying to draw and isn't satisfied. When they compare drawings, each artist realizes that they are better than they thought!

I liked Arlo's excitement and the progress of his frustration - brought on by his own negative thoughts. I really liked Rob Sayegh's illustrations, Arlo's crayon drawings were just perfect. This would be a great book to share with a child who needs help with positive mindset.

Cross posted to http://kissthebookjr.blogspot.com
222 reviews
July 10, 2022
Cute story about a little boy named Arlo who loves to draw. One day Arlo decides to draw an octopus but as he is drawing, he thinks it looks less and less like what he intended. Being his own personal worse critic, he crumples up the drawing but comes across an octopus who also wasn't happy with it's drawing of (surprise, surprise!) Arlo! They both compliment each other's works and decide they did a good job after all. Then Arlo is inspired to draw another one of his favorite animals..the elephant! and that concludes the story.
Profile Image for Erin Dealey.
Author 16 books72 followers
May 14, 2021
This wonderful picture book is not just for young artists, but for the perfectionist in all of us. A must-read for anyone who has met up with that obstacle standing in the way of ARLO's success--aka that little voice in our heads that says, "I can't." The sweet illustrations by Rob Sayegh Jr. match Lori Mortensen's playful text. And check out how the illustrated end papers of the town set up the story. From cover to cover, it's delightful.
Profile Image for Aubrey Jones.
69 reviews4 followers
May 22, 2021
This wonderful picture book is not just for young artists, but for the perfectionist in all of us. A must-read for anyone who has met up with that obstacle standing in the way of ARLO's success--aka that little voice in our heads that says, "I can't." The sweet illustrations by Rob Sayegh Jr. match Lori Mortensen's playful text. And check out how the illustrated end papers of the town set up the story. From cover to cover, it's delightful.
Profile Image for Rebecca Anne.
414 reviews
August 18, 2021
Arlo's favorite animal is an octopus, but when he tries to draw one, what comes out on the paper isn't what he loves. He becomes very discouraged, but then an unlikely friend shows him that he is being too hard on himself. This would be great for an art teacher to explain that art isn't perfect, we don't have to be perfect at the things we love to do, and we can make art be whatever we want it to be.
Profile Image for Patricia N. McLaughlin.
Author 2 books18 followers
December 17, 2021
Engaging digital illustrations of Arlo, the aspiring artist, and his attempts at drawing an octopus depict the frustration of not measuring up to expectations in amusing ways that convey the message without being didactic. However, the uneven diction—vocabulary like “perturbed,” “despicable,” and “retrieve”—seems too sophisticated for the intended picture-book audience and too often at odds with the eloquent simplicity of the artwork.
Profile Image for Danna Smith.
Author 24 books54 followers
June 11, 2021
In this punny picture book, Arlo doubts his drawing capabilities. After all, when he tries to draw an octopus, it’s a “disaster-piece.” But everything changes with a bit of perspective—a good lesson for all of us, young and old alike. The surprise ending wraps up this story in the most delightful way!
Profile Image for Linda Lodding.
Author 13 books58 followers
March 1, 2023
Arlo and Octopus are a loveable duo. The book is a tribute to the artist in all of us just waiting to get out. But this book is also about enjoying the process and letting go of the inner critic. Now this is a lesson I need to remember. Beautifully written with loose energetic illustrations, this book is a read-aloud keeper! Thank you, Arlo!
1,247 reviews
February 21, 2022
Sweet and solid pick to discuss growth mindset and perseverance. Arlo is frustrated when his drawing doesn't come out as he'd expected it to look, but after an octopus admires the artwork Arlo overcomes his frustration to see the drawing's potential and sticks with it.
Profile Image for Mary.
2,608 reviews11 followers
March 17, 2022
Arlo really wants to draw an octopus, but is very dissatisfied with his attempt. However, Arlo encounters a friend who encourages him to keep drawing. This will be a good picture book to share before an art project.
Profile Image for Robin.
3,335 reviews4 followers
June 4, 2021
Cute and very pertinent story of a boy who is discouraged about a drawing when it doesn't turn out as he expected. Good art readaloud.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 54 reviews

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