We’re excited to welcome author Suzanne Slade to the blog! Suzanne shares all about the research behind her stunning picture book Behold the Octopus!, which puts on display the mysterious, accomplished octopus and its astonishing abilities.
The research behind a book can be challenging and fun, tedious and exciting — all at the same time. But when you’re researching a mysterious, gorgeous creature like the octopus, there’s an extra dose of excitement!
When I began working on BEHOLD THE OCTOPUS!, I started with “light research.” This included quick google searches and videos. There’s nothing like seeing these clever creatures in action with your own eyes. It’s mesmerizing to watch an octopus changing its skin texture and color to match its background. But, it’s easy to go down a video rabbit hole, only to find yourself resurfacing many hours later.
Next, it was time for more in-depth species research, which included consulting reliable sources such as the National Wildlife Federation, Smithsonian Magazine, Animal Diversity Web at the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, MarineBio Conservation Society, and more.
I was amazed to find hundreds of different kinds of octopuses (over 300 species!)
Then I had tough decisions to make. Which of these marvelous octopus species would be featured in the book? I wanted to share ones who displayed a wide variety of unique physical features and abilities. After much consideration, I came up with 11 remarkable octopus (plus 2 more in the back matter pages.)
The book includes the blue-ringed octopus. Though its tiny body is only the size of a golf ball, its venom is powerful enough to kill a person!
I also selected the sleek algae octopus. It can leave the water and walk on land!
And I had to share the female blanket octopus with her stunning webbing that can scare off predators.
For months I crafted and revised the main text and sidebars. Then I reached out to an expert to inquire about vetting the manuscript.
Dr Janet Voight from the Negaunee Integrative Research Center at the Field Museum in Chicago kindly agreed to review the story and illustrations. She also pointed out that the deep-sea octopus, whose scientific name is widely known as Graneledone boreopacifica, had been recently change to Graneledone pacifica. Huh. Who knew?
Fortunately I was working with a smart expert who did!
I hope readers enjoy discovering these incredible creatures and the amazing things they can do in BEHOLD THE OCTOPUS!
Want more? BEHOLD THE OCTOPUS! resources:
Suzanne Slade is the Sibert Honor author of over 180 children’s books, many on STEM and nature topics. Her companion book to BEHOLD THE OCTOPUS!, titled BEHOLD THE HUMMINGBIRD!, releases in April 2024. You can find out more about the author on her website: suzanneslade.com.