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Etta and the Octopus

By Zana Fraillon & Andrew Joyner

Reviewed by Mia Macrossan

Zana is the much awarded writer of picture books including The Gargoyle and The Curiosities and books for older readers such The Lost Soul Atlas and The Way of Dog, both reviewed in StoryLinks. Andrew Joyner has illustrated many works for children including Ask Hercules Quick,  Brindabella and my personal favourite The Swap.
Andrew says: ‘I like to draw with soft, dark pencils, or a brush dipped in a puddle of shiny black ink. I then like to play around with these drawings on my computer (or lately, my iPad). Drawing for me is a way of thinking and learning. Each time I do a drawing I feel like I’ve learnt something. Although sometimes it takes me a while to figure out exactly what I’ve learnt.’
This is a story about an unlikely friendship, about putting up with and understanding why someone might be difficult to live with.
Etta decides to have a bath and finds it occupied by a giant octopus. The suitcase on the floor, with Oswald written on it in large curly letters is a clue. At first Etta thinks it might be fun to have Oswald around but he is not good at being tidy, or cooking, or sharing or even playing nicely. He steals all her socks and gets upset if he doesn’t win at board games. Fed up, Etta decides to put up posters to see if someone will claim Oswald. The person who turns up is Marina Prinkle Esquire armed with a large net and a sharp stick with a spike on the end. Does Etta really want to send Oswald away? And with this person?
The amusing illustrations add to the fun. As I was reading it I kept thinking about how an octopus can survive out of the water, but children don’t have any of these grown up quibbles and readily accept and enjoy any ridiculous situation.
This warm hearted story provides lots of laughs as well as food for thought and discussion and will appeal to many children just starting to read on their own.
Lothian Children’s Books 2023
Zana Fraillon
Andrew Joyner
1942 Amsterdam Ave NY (212) 862-3680

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