Octopus's Garden by Ringo Starr and Ben Cort

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Octopus's Garden by Ringo Starr and Ben Cort

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Category: For Sharing
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Margaret Young
Reviewed by Margaret Young
Summary: A whimsical book which you can read or sing to children, but which might just appeal to adults as much as to children.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 32 Date: October 2013
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Children's Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1471120077

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This is a beautifully illustrated book which takes the readers into a lovely world of fantasy. There is no story to speak of. The text of this book consists only of the lyrics to The Beatles song Octopus's Garden from their 1969 album - Abbey Road. I loved this song as a very young child, and I always felt this was written for children, at least on some level. I used to close my eyes listen to the words as I pictured the Octopus and his enchanted garden. It is the only song, to my knowledge written solely by Ringo, and the last song which featured Ringo as the lead vocalist.

No one else could have done this song. It was Ringo's and I think the song has captured the essence of the song writer. But whether you grew up listening to The Beatles, or have little use for their music, this book has its own magic for young readers. It is a fanciful trip under the waves to an ocean filled with peace and delightful creatures waiting to befriend the children who happen to visit. The illustrations are by Ben Cort, and this really is a match made in heaven. The pictures perfectly reflect the feelings of peace and the joy of discovery in a realm made of magic and dreams. It as if he captured the dreams of a generation of children with his brush.

This is one of those books that I feel will appeal to almost all babies. The bright colours and captivating illustrations will draw the youngest of children in, and the fact that you can sing instead of read this, gives it a lullaby-like quality for infants. With older children it is apt to be either loved or met with complete indifference. My youngest child (age 5) loved this, and I could see the dreamy look in his eyes as he obviously imagined himself in this magical place. I could tell it left an impression on him when he asked for the Octopus's Garden to be included in our make believe stories before bed. He enjoyed the song as well and was soon discovering other songs by The Beatles. My oldest (age 8) however had little interest in this, and I don't think this is to do with age. It is simply that the younger child is more of a dreamer and the older child is very scientific. This is a lovely book, but this one is for the dreamers.

I have to admit, I chose this book as much for myself as for the children, and if my Mother and Grandmother were still alive, I'd be buying them each a copy too. This may be intended for children, but I think many adults will enjoy the nostalgia this book elicits. If you happen to know an adult who has held onto the ability to dream, and also is a fan of The Beatles, this is a wonderful trip down memory lane and a wonderful addition to any Beatles fan's collection. It certainly brought back my own childhood, if only for a very short time.

This book also includes audio cd. This includes the song with and without vocals and Ringo reading the words out loud with a tone. I was quite happy to have the song handy so I could play it for my child, and it is a good recording of the song, but I do think I have heard better. I doubt a child would notice the difference, but a Beatles fan might. I wasn't overly impressed with the audio reading either. I found the tone to turn the page a bit too loud and intrusive, but I would prefer to read this to the child myself or listen to the musical version, so this isn't an issue for me.

For books with a similar background you might like to try:

Puff the Magic Dragon by Peter Yarrow, Lenny Lipton and Eric Puybaret

Forever Young by Bob Dylan

Buy Octopus's Garden by Ringo Starr and Ben Cort at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Octopus's Garden by Ringo Starr and Ben Cort at Amazon.co.uk

Buy Octopus's Garden by Ringo Starr and Ben Cort at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Octopus's Garden by Ringo Starr and Ben Cort at Amazon.com.


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