Book Activity, Book Review

Giant Squid Book Review and Activities

On sight, Giant Squid was a ‘must buy’ for me!  On my bookshelf, nest many children’s books about octopus and giant squid bought over 25 years, and author Candace Fleming and illustrator Eric Rohmann ‘nail’ this version on so many levels, I had to add it to my collection.  With every page turn, I was delighted to experience the poetically written non-fiction verse and get up close and personal with the creature that has mystified people for hundreds of years.

The elusive, mysterious giant squid lives in the deepest darkest parts of the ocean and Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann take us there.  Little is known about the life of this enigmatic being, and what scientists do know, has been the result of rare sightings in the ocean or pieces of them washing up on beaches. These clues have helped scientists piece together what they understand about giant squid today.

Upon opening the book, readers are immediately submerged in the deepest ocean with the first illustration showing only a tiny portion of the squid’s tentacle rising from the deep dark depths.  With each page turn exquisite descriptive language captivates the reader while the illustrations reveal the creature writhing closer and closer…

 “Down, down in the depths of the sunless sea, deep, deep in the cold, cold dark, creatures, strange and fearsome lurk.”

 “With writhing arms and ghostly, lidless eyes they glide; some as large as buses,  some weighing a ton.”

Fleming writes about giant squid facts but asks questions as well…immersing readers in wonder…engaging their curiosity… 

 “Where does the female squid lay her eggs?  How long does it take them to hatch?  More unanswered questions. Still more mystery.”  

  “In the murk…an eye! Round. Unblinking. Some as big as soccer balls.  The biggest eyes on the planet.  Why?”

 I have read this book to many student groups and the reaction is always the same. They are absolutely enthralled with the appearance of the creature and fascinated with the facts and mystery surrounding these incredible animals.

“Here are its tentacles, two, curling and twisting and thirty feet long, waiting for-a passing fish…another squid…anything swimming by.”

 Again, another page turn and the reader continues exploring the dark world with giant squid.  We watch, as it hungrily wraps its tentacles around a fish and before it eats, we see its beak…

  “The beak. Bone-hard and parrot-like, it sits in the center of those eight, slithering arms, protruding from the creature’s mouth, rotating from side to side, ripping apart prey.”

Another page turn and we are with giant squid as it escapes a predator by releasing ink…and in a flash, it is gone from sight…back into the deep dark depths…

Candace Fleming includes a fact page at the end of the book where children and adults alike can learn more about giant squid and about the human history of the discovering of those facts.

  • How many hearts does giant squid have?
  • How big are the suckers on giant squid?
  • What bits and pieces of giant squid have washed up on shorelines all over the world?
  • How long or how big does giant squid grow?
  • How do sperm whales locate giant squid in the deep dark parts of the ocean?
  • And what about that beak of giant squid…?

If you are curious, and I hope you are, check out Giant Squid by author Candace Fleming and illustrator Eric Rohmann.

More to ponder

Here is another non-fiction book about Giant Squid written by science writer, Mary M. Cerullo who teamed up with Smithsonian Emeritus Zoologist, Clyde F.E. Roper.  Using amazing photos and illustrations the book documents the mysteries of giant Squid, other cephalopods and the history of human interest in the elusive animals of the deep.

Giant Squid : Searching for a Sea Monster

Here are some books about Octopus.  You may want to use a Venn diagram to compare and contrast the two animals: Giant Squid and Octopus!

The Octopus Scientists written by Sy Montgomery and photographs by Keith Ellenbogen.

Gentle Giant Octopus: Read and Wonder written by Karen Wallace and illustrated by Mike Bostock.

One of my two sons was super fascinated by giant squid and as a 6-year-old, he would draw the creature at every opportunity.  I tried to find giant squid toys but 22 years ago that was rather challenging.  My children already collected other toy animals by the company, Safari, and he wondered why they didn’t make a giant squid.  So, I suggested he write the company a letter…and he did…about a year later we found giant squid in the toy store….

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Safari Sea Life Giant Squid Figure

After reading Giant Squid, by Candace Fleming, grade 1 and 2 students were asked to draw a picture and write something they learned about giant squid.   I always leave the picture book out on a table for students to use as a resource while working in their journals. They can refer to the pictures in the book and find words in the text to use in their own writing.

Accompanying Activities

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