Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 05/15/2015 *Starred Review* This color-changing, tentacled shape-shifter can “pour” itself through a hole the size of a thimble, drill through seashells with its tongue, squirt ink, and paralyze its prey with venom. There’s nothing on the planet like an octopus, yet its high intelligence and prowess at camouflage have made this mollusk difficult to study. This beautiful entry in the award-winning Scientists in the Field series follows an expedition to the French Polynesian island of Moorea to study Pacific day octopuses—not octopi—in the wild and unlock some of the mystery surrounding this marine animal. With infectious enthusiasm, the team searches for octopuses with their dens, so the scientists can study their personalities and diet, of which little is known. Between dives, mind-boggling octopus facts are relayed, as well as the team members’ backgrounds. Spectacular underwater photography shows octopuses “standing” tall and stately on their tentacles, while others lie coiled with their skin drawn up into peaks to mimic coral or displaying a range of colors and patterns (purple and gold, stripes and spots) that they can conjure in one-tenth of a second. Other marine life is also featured in breathtaking shots of sea turtles, dazzling fish, and giant clams. Ultimately, little new information is discovered, but this account of octopuses’ lives remains endlessly fascinating. - Copyright 2015 Booklist.
Bulletin for the Center... - 07/01/2015 The reliably informative and entertaining Montgomery is off on another Scientists in the Field adventure, this time tracking Dr. Jennifer Mather and a research team on the island of Moorea, near Tahiti, where they hope to study the elusive octopus. They’ll need to find two habitats in order to establish comparisons, and considering Montgomery’s two-week time limit, they’ll need to find them promptly. It’s just this sort of consideration that makes this series so intriguing: science doesn’t operate on a publishing schedule, and octopuses don’t share the author’s sense of urgency. And so, while quietly stressing about whether she’ll get to see an octopus, and noting the irony of passing by myriad marine wonders in rushed pursuit of her quarry, Montgomery explores why the octopus is so very difficult to study. The relatively shallow waters in which they live are challenging, rife with poisonous sea life and skin-lacerating corals and algae. Mostly, though, it’s the nature of the beast itself, a boneless master of camouflage that changes color and skin texture in a fraction of a second and slips through improbably tiny holes to hide. The team does, thankfully, find octopuses before Montgomery’s departure, and it not only inventories their post-prandial trash heaps but also administers interactive tests that Dr. Mather has devised to assess individual octopus personalities. Each chapter of triple-columned text is heavily illustrated with photographs taken on site and includes two or more pages of related information on the scientists, the CRIOBE (Le Centre de Recherches Insulaires et Observatoire de l’Environnement de Polynésie Française) research facility, and octopus physiology and behavior. An index and selected bibliography are included. EB - Copyright 2015 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.
School Library Journal - 07/01/2015 Gr 6–9—Searching for octopuses along the coast of Moorea in French Polynesia might sound like a dream assignment. However, these elusive mollusks are master of deceptive camouflage: boneless wonders that can ooze into impossibly small spaces and that tend to change their locations abruptly, leaving merely a tidy stack of emptied shells from past meals. Montgomery and Ellenbogen join psychologist Jennifer Mather and her team as they methodically explore Moorea's fringing reefs, recording finds of octopus dens and middens on geographic grids, meeting octopods here and there that peer curiously from their hiding places. Interspersed with this logical, systematic investigation is a series of fascinating asides: discussions of the Centre de Researches Insulaires et Observatoire de l'Environnement de Polynésie Française, of the intelligence of these evasive creatures and their amazing capability to change the color and texture of their skin, and of the coral habitats they select as dwelling places. Through sharply crafted text, Montgomery shares her enthusiasm with readers, and Ellenbogen's vibrant color photos allow a crystalline window into a very special environment. This glimpse into an alien world and mind combines biology and psychology: an exciting pairing. VERDICT Another enticing entry in a series devoted to highlighting enthusiastic scientists hard at work in the fields they love.—Patricia Manning, formerly at Eastchester Public Library, NY - Copyright 2015 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.