Book Buzz
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About the book | About the author and illustrator | Hear from the author | Early praise | Behind the scenes | Sample chapter | Signed book giveaway


From the multi-award-winning author of A Monster Calls and a stunningly talented Australian illustrator comes a haunting tale of power and obsession that turns the story of Moby Dick upside down.


About the book About the book

With harpoons strapped to their backs, the proud whales of Bathsheba’s pod live for the hunt, fighting in the ongoing war against the world of men. When they attack a ship bobbing on the surface of the Abyss, they expect to find easy prey. Instead, they find the trail of a myth, a monster, perhaps the devil himself …

As their relentless Captain leads the chase, they embark on a final, vengeful hunt, one that will forever change the worlds of both whales and men.

With the lush, atmospheric art of Australian artist Rovina Cai woven in throughout, this remarkable work by Patrick Ness turns the familiar tale of Moby Dick upside down and tells a story all its own with epic triumph and devastating fate.

Exquisitely illustrated throughout in full colour, And the Ocean Was Our Sky is a uniquely imaginative retelling of Moby Dick and will be published by Walker Books Australia in September 2018.


About the author and illustrator

Patrick Ness is the award-winning and bestselling author of the ‘Chaos Walking’ trilogy, A Monster Calls, More Than This, The Rest of Us Just Live Here and Release. John Green has described him as ‘an insanely beautiful writer’. He has won every major prize in children’s fiction, including the Carnegie Medal twice. He has written the screenplay for the film adaptation of A Monster Calls and the BBC Doctor Who spin-off television series, Class. The first film in the ‘Chaos Walking’ trilogy is slated for release in 2019.

Rovina Cai creates illustrations that evoke a sense of intrigue and she is often inspired by the past. From myths and fairytales to gothic novels, she loves stories that bring a little bit of magic and wonder to the present day. She lives in Melbourne, and you can see more of her work here.



Hear from the author

Hear Patrick Ness talk about what inspired And the Ocean Was Our Sky in the video below.


Early praise

‘Wrenching, dark, and powerful.’Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

‘In his latest, the critically acclaimed and wildly divergent Ness, never one for convention, takes the story of Moby-Dick, pares it down to its basic parts, and quite literally inverts it … Ness’ writing—spare, thought provoking, and already dramatic—is utterly enhanced by Cai’s breathtaking artwork.’ Booklist (starred review)

‘Mind-bendingly brilliant and fearlessly strange.  We are swallowed by the ocean, in all its menace and majesty.’—Frances Hardinge, author of The Lie Tree


About the author Behind the scenes

The talented illustrator behind the stunning artwork in And the Ocean Was Our Sky, Melbourne-based artist Rovina Cai, shares some insights into the development of the book:

How long was your process for creating the artwork in ATOWOS?

Rovina: It was about six months of work all up. I started with rough sketches, and then moved onto creating finals as each sketch was approved. The process was quite intensive and involved a lot of revisions to get the images looking just right.

The central character is a whale. How did you get into the mind of the whale to bring Bathsheba to life?

Rovina: The whales always felt very human when I read the story, so a lot of emphasis was placed on making sure they were depicted in a way that suggested intellect and emotion. This includes using a lot of close-up shots, focusing on their eyes, and conveying mood and atmosphere. It can be easy to assume that a book involving animal characters is a cute children’s story, but ATOWOS is nothing like that. It is quite dark at times, and touches on a lot of philosophical topics, so the illustrations had to reflect that.

Was there any scene from the book that was your particular favourite to bring to life, or that you’re most proud of?

Rovina: There is a sequence of images in the middle of the book that lasts several pages, where you see a swarm of sharks slowly come across a pod of whales. It was actually the first sequence of images I created but remains my favourite, for the eerie atmosphere and slow realisation of what is going on. Getting that right really helped set the tone for the rest of the illustrations.



Sample chapter

You can read the first chapter (and get a glimpse at some of the breathtaking illustrations) here.


Signed book giveaway

For your chance to receive one of five finished copies of And the Ocean Was Our Sky, signed by Patrick Ness and Rovina Cai, email with ‘And the Ocean Was Our Sky Giveaway’ in the subject line and tell us why you’re excited to read the book! The five most creative responses will win a copy after the book’s release in September.


(Illustrations © Rovina Cai 2018.)




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