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In this classic picture book, first published in 1960, Tomi Ungerer tells the story of an eight-legged hero. Emile has twice as much courage and four times as many legs as most people – except, of course, other octopuses. Ungerer’s charming illustrations make this unlikeliest of heroes quite irresistible – everyone will wish they had a friend like Emile. When deep-sea diver Captain Samovar is attacked by a shark, Emile comes to his aid . Grateful to his rescuer, the Captain invites him to stay at his home, where Emile sleeps in a bath tub full of salt water. It turns out that as well as being brave, Emile is also a gifted musician: able to play three instruments simultaneously, he is the life and soul of every party. But Emile soon misses the ocean, and takes a job as a lifeguard. He is a great success at the beach: he teaches children to swim, saves people who have swum out too far and keeps everyone entertained with his amazing ability to form different shapes with his many limbs – Emile can turn himself into a chair, a bird, even a unicorn. One day, Emile and the Captain, who works on a police launch, encounter a suspicious-looking boat on the ocean. They have chanced upon a group of smugglers, and Emile once again saves the day by capturing the bandits. To celebrate his heroism, the police name their next boat Emile, after their friend the brave and helpful octopus. After all the excitement, Emile decides to return to his quiet life in the sea, where Captain Samovar, dressed up in his diving suit, often comes to join him for a game of chess, and a chance to talk about their old adventures. And in case you were wondering: yes, octopuses is the correct plural form of octopus, not octopi. In fact, based on the word’s linguistic roots (it’s a Latinized form of the Greek word oktopous) the ‘correct’ plural should really be octopodes – but that would be taking things too far.
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