cover image Also an Octopus

Also an Octopus

Maggie Tokuda-Hall, illus. by Benji Davies. Candlewick, $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7636-7084-9

Debut author Tokuda-Hall offers a capricious crash course in the elements and boundless possibilities of story. “Every story starts the same way... with nothing,” explains an unseen narrator. “And every story needs a character. Any character you can imagine!” The narrator promptly conjures a ukulele-playing octopus who, for a story to materialize, “needs to want something.” Tokuda-Hall subtly introduces concepts like conflict and emotional stakes as the octopus unsuccessfully attempts to build a spaceship from soda cans, umbrellas, glitter, and waffles (“I’m not really qualified to build a spaceship,” quips the bewildered protagonist). Eventually, the octopus’s ukulele-strumming attracts friends and rocket scientists, who help propel the story to a resolution. What happens next, the author tells readers, is “up to you! When one story ends, it’s just making room for another story to begin.” Davies’s (Grandad’s Island) freewheeling digital art keeps pace with the encouraging narration, and the concluding image—of a rocket scientist water-skiing atop a rhino while wearing a colander on her head—cements the idea that, when it comes to storytelling, anything is possible. Ages 3–7. Author’s agent: Jennifer Laughran, Andrea Brown Literary. Illustrator’s agent: Vicki Willden-Lebrecht, Bright Literary. (Oct.)