NEW YORK TIMES: "It’s lovely down here."
  Srinivasan, an animator and the author of the luminous “Little Owl’s Night” (2011), brings the same distinctive beauty to this story of a glowy orange octopus, “hidden in her cozy cave.” Octopus is “shy and did not like to be noticed,” despite the attentions of frolicking sea horses, shimmering jellyfish and baby dominoes playing hide-and-seek. But there’s a fine line between alone and lonely, and Octopus realizes she still needs company. Story plays second fiddle here to Srinivasan’s lush artistry; the gloomy depths of the sea pulse with possibility; startling color contrasts bring carnival cheer to the boisterous reefs. It’s lovely down here.
PUBLISHER'S WEEKLY: "every page is a stunner"
  Cantaloupe-colored Octopus “was shy and did not like to be noticed,” writes Srinivasan, and to avoid mingling with the many genial extroverts who share her reef, she employs all of her natural abilities: fast getaways, hiding, blending in with her surroundings, and squirting black ink. Determined “to get away, far from goggling eyes” she leaves the sunlit, aqua waters of the reef for the ocean’s lonely black depths, where she realizes that she may not have such a low tolerance for companionship after all. Srinivasan’s storytelling feels a tad overwritten compared to her breakout debut, Little Owl’s Night, but her artistry is the farthest thing from a sophomore slump. From the bustling reef with its cheery, diverse inhabitants to the “magnificent storm of bubbles” that unfolds in the wake of a breaching whale (depicted in a vertical gatefold), every page is stunner. And while Octopus may be shy, her cuddly intrepidness, sweet big eyes, and flirty lashes make her an irresistible tour guide through Srinivasan’s beautiful, briny deep.

KIRKUS: "striking rendition of the marine world in this no-place-like-home tale"


Shy Octopus flees the sea horses who dance into her cozy cave, but the deeper ocean is lonely and a little scary, so she returns to her friends in the lively reef.

Srinivasan follows her debut, Little Owl’s Night (2011), with a similarly striking rendition of the marine world in this no-place-like-home tale. Her story opens with a cast of characters, reef inhabitants, that are identified on the end papers. Readers will be able to point them out as Octopus makes the traditional picture-book journey on pages whose backgrounds range from varying shades of blue and green to the near-black of the ocean depths. With frames, full-page and double-page spreads and even a fold-out starring a whale, the artist varies her images to add interest and show the passage of time. In spite of eyelashes that defy the usual understanding of the differences between mammals and cephalopods and the anthropomorphic plot, this sweet story is relatively accurate in its depiction of octopus behavior and reef ecology. The octopus changes color to blend into her environment several times, squirts ink to hide and escape, and lurks in caves. There are predators and prey, but, appropriately for the intended audience, no one gets eaten.

A gentle, positive story set in a world far less scary than that of Pixar’s Nemo.

BRODARTVIBE: "entertaining and enlightening picture book"


Everyone likes to have fun with friends, but sometimes you need the peace and quiet of being alone. Octopus Alone by Divya Srinivasan helps children understand that occasionally we all need time to relax and be by ourselves.

The only thing Octopus wants is to be left alone to enjoy the lively reef outside her comfy cave. She loves to watch the turtles, squid and shrimp chase each other and the seahorses do their twirling tricks. Unfortunately for the shy Octopus, the seahorses find her interesting too and try to include her in the fun. When she can’t shoo them away, she decides to leave her comfort and find a new place where she won’t be noticed. During her travels, she comes across many interesting creatures and has some exciting adventures. She finds another hiding place like her own, but this one is far away from everyone and everything. After she wakes up from a nap, Octopus starts thinking about her busy reef and starts to wonder what the seahorses are doing. She hurries home to find out and is happy to be welcomed back by all her friends.

Octopus Alone is sure to be a hit with anyone who enjoys the fascinating world under water. Young children will appreciate the vibrant and adorable illustrations while being introduced to some interesting traits and habits of sea creatures. This entertaining and enlightening picture book not only offers a meaningful message about the need to spend quality time by ourselves, but it also teaches we need to go away sometimes to be reminded how much we love being home
Austin American Statesman: "a deceptively sophisticated book that works on many levels"
  Octopus is at the center of a flurry of undersea activity. A bevy of persistent seahorses just want to play, jellyfish shimmer in the water, and a hungry eel bares its teeth.
It’s all too much, and she wants a moment to herself. So she swims far beyond the reef, into open water where she is gloriously, happily alone.

Until she realizes just how far she’s gone.

“Octopus Alone” is the second impressive picture book from Austin artist Divya cq Srinivasan. An illustrator and animator, her work has appeared in The New Yorker; in videos for They Might be Giants, Disney and the Sundance Channel; and in Richard Linklater’s film “The Waking Life.” She’ll be at BookPeople Saturday to talk about “Octopus,” a sweet, empathetic paean to both striking out on your own and appreciating the comforts of the familiar.

Srinivasan’s debut effort, “Little Owl’s Night” (Viking, 2011), was dubbed “exceptional” by the New York Times and “the best picture book of the year” by the Boston Globe. “Octopus” features her distinctively crisp, colorful artwork, along with lyrical narration of Octopus’ adventure:

“Sea snakes slithered in and out of holes. Among the swaying anemones, baby dominos played hide-and-seek, while clownfish chased butterflies. Tiny fish ate algae from a big fish’s scales, leaving them sparkling clean.”

The result is a deceptively sophisticated book that works on many levels, from the details of Octopus’ adventures to the larger life lessons contained in pushing past comfort zones. (Aimed at ages 3-5; young elementary-age children would also enjoy)


copyright Divya Srinivasan