Sunday, October 30, 2016

Also an Octopus, by Maggie Tokuda-Hall -- building a story from a little bit of nothing (ages 4-8)

What does it take to build a story? Do you need a magic formula, or can anyone do it? In Also an Octopus, Maggie Tokuda-Hall encourages young storytellers, showing them that every story begins with "just a little bit of nothing."
Also an Octopus
by Maggie Tokuda-Hall
illustrated by Benji Davies
Candlewick, 2016
Google Books preview
Your local library
ages 4-8
Every story must start with a main character, and so we have an octopus--a ukulele-playing octopus wearing a cute knit cap. "But in order for it to be a story, and not just an octopus, that octopus needs to want something." Here, our octopus wants a rocket ship, "a totally awesome shining purple spaceship capable of intergalactic travel." But don't be fooled--you can't just go down to your local store and buy one; you have to make one.
"I'm not really qualified to build a spaceship...But it does smell like waffles! So that's nice."
With whimsy and delight, Tokuda-Hall shows young readers the writing process, introducing introducing story elements key to successful conflict and resolution. Her energetic language and playful premise are matched by Davies' bright digital artwork. Just look at the octopus trying to build a purple spaceship out of "soda cans and glue and umbrellas and glitter and waffles"! Talk about a recipe that's going to bring laughter from the storytime crowd.

Young writers will see how a character's desire and the obstacles it faces are key to keeping a story moving. What makes this story stand out is how the narrator's instructions are blended with silly examples and punchy humor. Just look at the rocket scientists who come along to join the octopus's band.
"Rocket scientists who don't just build rocket ships--they also play the saxophone, tambourine, trumpet and lute!"
Kids will love the goofy humor, vibrant illustrations and silly twists that keep the story moving quickly. But the real joy is the way the story ends by encouraging young storytellers to jump right in and try it for themselves.
"So what happens next?
That's up to you.
When one story ends, it's just making room for another story to begin."
A perfect invitation for kids to tell their own stories, this will make a delightful read-aloud at home, in the library or at school.

Illustrations copyright © Benji Davies, 2016, shared with permission of the publisher. The review copy was kindly sent by the publisher, Candlewick Press. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2016 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

1 comment:

  1. I am a sucker for books about books! This a funny, fantastically illustrated resource for teaching kids about story structure.