Claire Zorn, No Place for an Octopus, University of Queensland Press, November 2019, 128 pp., RRP $24.95 (hbk), ISBN 9780702262609
This is a wonderful picture book, created by the author of three very successful and award-winning young adult novels. Illustrated in pencil and watercolour – beautifully watery-colour – we get a young boy’s narrative perspective on his discovery of an octopus in a rock pool, including his very considered reflection on what the octopus might be feeling. His imagination explores the possibility of taking the octopus home, before he makes a final call on what to do.
The cover of the book has a big hole cut in it, revealing the faces of the boy and octopus peering through. The text, in a font mimicking hand-printing, immerses the reader in the mind of the boy: “I’m a little bit afraid. The octopus is too.”; “Maybe I could take it home?”; “I could make it happy. I could. Couldn’t I?” At the same time, we see illustrated the comical depiction of the creature in all manner of unlikely activity. In its deep pinky-redness, the octopus stands out like an alien in the bath, at the movies, on the monkey bars, yet blends in with the shells, sea grasses and the ocean in the rockpool, represented in watery jewel like colours. My favourite line, “I look at the octopus, and the octopus looks at me” marks the boy’s confident decision about what to do. “A rock pool is the perfect place for an octopus.”
Reviewed by Marita Thomson