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Etta and the Octopus (Zana Fraillon, illus by Andrew Joyner, Lothian)

What should we offer a newly independent reader who is ready for a book with more text than a picture book but still needs plenty of support from the illustrations? Etta and the Octopus is an ideal choice. An engaging junior chapter book by Zana Fraillon and Andrew Joyner, the story begins with young Etta deciding to have a bath. She is startled to find a suitcase with the name ‘Oswald’ in her bathroom and then discovers that its owner—an octopus—is in her bath. After her initial surprise, her unflappable natures triumphs, and she waits patiently for him to finish before supplying him with a towel, bathrobe and slippers. Oswald makes himself at home. When he eats her entire stock of tinned tuna, wears all her socks and brings the sand from a sandpit inside, Etta decides that enough is enough, and makes ‘Found’ posters so that he can be returned to his own home. Oswald does not speak, so Fraillon and Joyner find clever ways to communicate information to Etta and the reader about his identity, background and feelings. The words, as well as the black and white comic-style pictures on every page, establish the storyline and characters’ personalities quickly and, in perfect synergy, heighten the comedy of their actions and behaviour. Etta and the Octopus conjures curiosity, wonder, humour and suspense to bring a new twist to the age-old tale of an unlikely friendship.

Books+Publishing reviewer: Joy Lawn has worked for independent bookshops and blogs at Paperbark Words. Books+Publishing is Australia’s number-one source of pre-publication book reviews.


Category: Junior Reviews