I love to review books that contain stories that celebrate books and storytelling. Today I bring you a picture book that appealed to me on so many levels. It is about how stories are crafted, it features a ukulele playing octopus ( I play the ukulele so I am drawn to stories that feature ukuleles), and it also looks at how dreams can come true. What more could one ask for.
Also an Octopus
Also an Octopus
Illustrated by Benji Davies
For ages 5 to 7
Candlewick Press, 2017, 978-0-7636-7084-9
You may imagine that stories come into this world half or even fully formed, but this is not the case. All stories start the same way, with a blank page that has nothing on it. So, you have a whole load of nothing to begin with.
You begin building a story by finding a character; one that will excite you, and one that will encourage you to develop your story. You could chose to write about a little girl or a cute little white rabbit, but an octopus who plays the ukulele would be even better.
Now, the next thing that you will need to do is to figure out what your main character wants. The octopus could want a sandwich or a friend; these are perfectly reasonable things to want. Or it could want a “shining purple spaceship capable of intergalactic travel.” That would be a great thing to want, because a spaceship isn’t the kind of thing that you can just pick up in a local shop. The octopus is going to have to build the spaceship. The problem is that this particular octopus, though it is can play the ukulele, is not skilled when it comes to building a spaceship. Perhaps what the octopus need is the help of a friend. Let’s bring that cute little white rabbit into the tale to see what he can do.
It turns out that whereas sweet white bunnies do indeed make excellent friends, it does not follow that they are rocket scientists.
Not surprisingly the ukulele playing octopus is now feeling very down and one could even say it is “despondent.” At this rate it is never going to be able to travel to distant galaxies in a shiny, purple spaceship.
The wonderful tale in this book is a joy to read. At first it seems to be about how stories are created from nothing, but then you realize that it is also about how dreams can come true, even when ones dream seems to be hopelessly unattainable. In the story there are delightful touches of humor, a narrative that is full of surprises, and a loveable main character - an octopus who plays the ukulele is irresistible.
This book celebrates the creative process and the hopes that make dreams come true.