Friday 22 November 2019

No Place for an Octopus

No Place for an Octopus by Claire Zorn (University of Queensland Press) HB RRP $24.95 ISBN: 9780702262609

Reviewed by Dannielle Viera

When a young boy discovers an octopus hiding in a rock pool, its strange body and ‘blobby head’ fascinate him. He decides that it ‘must be lonely there all by itself’. The boy thinks about taking the octopus home and making it ‘comfy and snug’. He believes that they would become great friends and do lots of fun things together, such as playing games. But as he looks into the creature’s eyes, the boy realises that the rock pool is the best place for the octopus to live.

Brimming with wide-eyed wonder, Claire Zorn’s delightful picture book will appeal to children aged three to eight. In a little over 200 words, she delves into a surprising array of themes: the essence of friendship, the value of empathy, the true meaning of happiness and loneliness, and the need to understand and respect the natural world. She leaves room for the child reader to make connections and draw conclusions using their own powers of imagination and reasoning.

From the clever die-cut cover, which invites the reader to dive into the book, to Claire’s fresh and fluid watercolour illustrations, No Place for an Octopus is a visual feast. Kids will spend hours poring over the vivid details flooding the rock-pool spread and giggling at the vignettes of the octopus having a bath, watching a 3D movie and riding a bike. Perhaps most importantly, Claire utilises the large and expressive eyes of the octopus to engender an emotional relationship between the creature and both the protagonist and the reader, awakening compassion and rapport within each child.

In no time at all, this endearing book will find a place in every young heart. As children read the story again and again, an ocean of new ideas and insights will fill the rock pools of their minds.

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