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The Picture Book Buzz

How Squid Got Two Long Arms - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

What a world it would be if we never had to teach a child how to deal with bullying or how to help another who is being bullied. But, as that is not reality unfortunately, it is important for kids to see/read about characters in books dealing with a bully. While the actual strategies in these two books might not work in reality, their underlying message that we are more powerful if we stick together and help each other out, is an important one.

Henry Herz has definitely been really busy this fall. In addition to Alice's Magic Garden: Before the Rabbit Hole (reviewed here last week), Henry released two more books, both illustrated by Luke Graber. Both books contain kid-friendly messages of the importance of sticking by your friends and not giving in to a bully's physical or verbal harassment.

How the Squid Got Two Long Arms released August 30th and Good Egg, Bad Apple released September 28th. If you're curious about the back story for these two books, be sure to check out Henry's interview on September 17th (here).

How the Squid Got Two Long Arms

Author: Henry Herz

Illustrator: Luke Graber

Publisher: Pelican Publishing Company, Inc. (2018)

Ages: 3-8 years



Bullying, kindness, greed, and a twist on an origin story.

Synopsis (from Barnes & Noble):

Author Henry Herz tells a clever story about a selfish squid who pays the price for stretching the patience of his fellow sea creatures thin. The tale trails a shivering squid swimming through the cold waters of winter who spots a cozy looking sweater. Although it belongs to an octopus, the squid makes off with the sweater. Still not cozy, the squid keeps swimming and helping himself to more clothes to keep himself warm, until the true owners of the clothes come after him with dire consequences! This charming new twist on a pourquoi tale is complete with colorful comic book style illustrations and scientific information about real life squids that will interest readers of all ages!

Opening Lines:

Once upon a time, in the cool winter seas,

there swam a squid with a splendid silvery scarf,

knitted most lovingly by his mother.

In those days, a squid's ten arms were all of equal length.

Why I like this book:

Thinking only of himself, a chilly squid swipes a napping octopus' sweater. Then he meanly nabs a crab's mitten. Confident that his ink cloud and speed enabled to get away with his thefts, he is emboldened to grab one more piece of clothing - an amazing, fuzzy cap.

Unbeknownst to the squid, but clear (in the illustrations) to the reader, the octopus and the crab have forged a friendship and sped after the thieving squid. When the eel backs into his cave, the squid decides to reach in and grab the hat.

The three work together to defend/rescue their belongings, creating an explanation of why squid's have two longer arms. Although told with the feel of a traditional tale, the vibrant colors and cartoon-like illustrations will appeal to kids. The story doesn't end there, as Luke's final illustrations suggest that the squid's troubles aren't over. In an author's note, Henry provides some interesting information on the squid.

I like that, in addition to "explaining" why a squid has two longer arms, there's a subtle message of not giving in to a bully's attempt to take whatever they want.


- write or draw an origin story for an animal or plant;

Good Egg and Bad Apple

Author: Henry Herz

Illustrator: Luke Graber

Publisher: Schiffer Publishing, Ltd.

Ages: 5-8 years



Bullying, kindness, and food puns.

Synopsis (from Barnes & Noble):

Not all the foods in the refrigerator get along like peas in a pod. The vegetables are steamed, and Bad Apple and Second Banana are the problem. Good Egg suggests his friends try different responses to these two bullies. They try hiding, then standing their ground. At first, Good Egg's tactics don't bear fruit. Only by using his noodle does Good Egg avoid getting scrambled and save his friends' bacon. In this story told on two levels, young readers will be entertained by the hijinks of the anthropomorphic food characters and will appreciate the allegory about not letting one bad apple spoil the bunch. Adult readers are served plenty of food for thought with hilarious gastronomical idioms and puns. An author's note explaining all the wordplay adds English language educational opportunities.


Bad Apple snuck up on Romaine. "Boo!"

Romaine wilted in fear.

The vegetables were steamed.

But not Second Banana.

"That looks like fun! C'mon, let's go stalk celery."

Why I like this book:

After being called names, Bad Apple teams up with Second Banana to terrorize everyone in the fridge. They verbally and physically bully the others by tipping over the Half & Half, giving veggies wedgies (who knew this was possible), and calling other produce names.

When hiding from them didn't help, Good Egg hatches a plan (sorry, hard to resist) to stand up to them. However, this leaves him "scrambled." Strangely, the solution to Bad Apple's bullying seems to be telling him a joke. I like the message of sticking by your friends, of not giving in to bullies, but I wonder about the solution of telling them "punny" jokes. While maybe not an actual "real-life" solution, the message of friendship and solidarity definitely is an important one.

Overall, this is a book sure to delight kids who've enjoyed the recent stream of food books and delight in puns. These cartoon-like food characters certainly deliver. And the back matter is a feast of explanations of the puns and idioms that abound in the book.


- can you think of other puns or sayings that could be used about food? [If a carton of bad eggs were in a western setting, would they be the "dirty dozen"?]

- draw a picture or write a story about how you have or could deal with a bully.

- try some food art. Cut an apple, zucchini, or other fruit in half and make fruit print bookmarks.

This post is part of a series by authors and KidLit bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions see Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Books.

Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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