No Place for an Octopus (Claire Zorn, UQP)
This is Claire Zorn’s first picture book and it comes as rather a surprise—she is well known as an author of novels for young adults, for which she has won several awards including the Prime Minister’s Literary Award, the Victorian Premier’s Book Award and the CBCA Book of the Year twice. A simple story about an unusual friendship between a boy and an octopus, this picture book, illustrated by Zorn with suitably watery pictures, will appeal to children who like to explore. After discovering an octopus in a rock pool, a small boy imagines all the fun adventures he and the octopus could have together. In the end, thank goodness, he realises that the octopus is better left in its home in the rock pool, conveying a subtle conservation message about leaving animals in their natural environment. The landscape format allows the illustrations to spread across the pages, reflecting the soft colours of the beach and the animals and plants in the pools. Exploring the illustrations at the beach would even be fun as they could serve as a guide to the animals and plants to be found there. No Place for an Octopus is suitable for children aged four and up.
Margaret Hamilton AM is a former children’s book publisher and is now proprietor of Pinerolo, the Children’s Book Cottage in Blackheath, NSW