Debut author Tokuda-Hall and veteran illustrator Davies deconstruct the art of storytelling in this insightful, playful primer.
What does every story need? A character, first of all. In this story, readers meet a ukulele-playing octopus. The octopus must desire something “for it to be a story,” suggests the narrator. And what’s better than wanting a “totally awesome shining purple spaceship capable of intergalactic travel”? The octopus must earn the spaceship, though—by building it out of stuff like glue, soda cans, and waffles. It’s hard to build a spaceship, and even if the octopus receives help from an adorable bunny, it may not quite end up working out. “By now, the octopus is starting to give up.” Mixing deadpan humor with whimsical, endearing characters, Tokuda-Hall spins a reader-friendly metanarrative out of a wickedly absurd premise. Filled with numerous shades of purple, yellow, and blue, Davies’ inspired digital artwork springs from the page, like bursts of an overactive imagination. Exaggerated facial expressions also incite laughs, including a spread of the octopus in a “despondent” swoon. Yet this story wraps up a little too neatly, throwing in a contrived, feel-good resolution. Incapable of building a spaceship, the discouraged octopus plays the ukulele, attracting a racially diverse crowd of music-loving rocket scientists. Too easy? Perhaps, but maybe that’s the point.
A perceptive how-to for beginner storytellers. (Picture book. 3-7)