FICTION

Also an Octopus

illus. by Benji Davies. 32p. Candlewick. Oct. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780763670849.
COPY ISBN
PreS-Gr 3—"Every story starts the same way…with nothing." So begins this picture book, which doubles as an encouraging exercise in story development. Moving on from nothing, the narrator says that every story needs a character, and after presenting a couple of possibilities (a little girl, a bunny), it settles on an octopus who plays the ukulele. From there, the narrator explores the concept of plot: "But in order for it to be a story, and not just an octopus, that octopus needs to want something." This particular octopus wants a spaceship, a complicated desire that sets the stage for plenty of comedy and the introduction of more characters (including the girl, the bunny, and some rocket scientists). The bubbly, appealing art has punchy humor and works as an ongoing conversation with the narration, bringing the fumbling but exciting progress of crafting a new story to life. As the book ends, the visuals move the plot in a multitude of new directions, but the text leaves everything open-ended, concluding with encouragement for readers to take it from there. The final page shows one of the rocket scientists wielding a wrench and sporting a colander on her head as she rides a water-skiing rhinoceros off the right-hand page into whatever new plot readers can dream up for her.
VERDICT This entertaining read-aloud will jump-start imaginations and create opportunities for thinking about existing tales as well as for making new ones.

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