Friday, June 15, 2018

ReadItDaddy's First Book of the Week - Week Ending 15th June 2018 - "Lucy the Octopus" by Richy K. Chandler (Jessica King Publishing)

Our first Picture Book of the Week this week lulls you into a false sense of security by posing the question "How complicated can an Octopus's life be?"
The real answer there is "AMAZINGLY COMPLICATED" particularly if you're "Lucy the Octopus" - the new graphic novel from Richy K. Chandler.

Lucy is deeply uncool. She's a teenage Octopus who lays out her life across the pages of a comic strip in such an engaging and beautifully observed way that just spoke to C in a voice she instantly understood and was able to identify with.

Lucy struggles not only with being uncurably uncool, but also not being girly enough. Her family don't even seem to like her. Honestly, her mum and dad need a kick up the bum (as C quite rightly pointed out!)

Only Lucy's pet pufferfish Puffy seems to like her enough to want to hang out with her.

Lucy has been hiding her light under a patch of seaweed though. For all her uncool vibes and appearance, Lucy has an amazing hidden talent. She is, in fact, a seriously awesome guitarist (well, you would be with 8 arms at your disposal to knock out those amazing licks - right?)

In a quirk of fate Lucy finds she has been picked to join everyone's favourite local band, Lamington Fuzz. But initially only under the guise of a watermelon-headed shoe-staring indie kid.

While Lucy rocks at doing her own thing, her classmates realise that spending time with the "cool kids" isn't all it's cracked up to be.

Richy's keen observational humour, colourful art and bang-on-message middle grade-friendly storyline plucks strings about being happy in the skin that you're in, bucking the trend for chasing popularity over developing real friendships, and of course the internal struggle of defeating your own self-deprecation to build your confidence and try things you'd never think you could achieve.

There's a superb section at the back of this fantastic book that covers various organisations involved in anti-bullying measures, so although Lucy's plight is often amusing it's extremely good to also see Richy acknowledging that a lot of what happens to poor Lucy could fall into that category, so look out for that bit for sure.

It's breathtakingly good stuff this, perfect little comic-strip pockets of pure genius that build up the story of Lucy's so-called life in tiny smidgeons of interaction and action. An absolute delight to read at pretty much any age. 

C's best bit: Lucy's terrible attempts to follow fashion. Again, some things just aren't easy when you've got 8 legs and an extremely vain sister!

Daddy's favourite bit: A surprisingly deep, thoroughly engaging and beautifully observed bit of undersea comic fun that will speak loud and clear to so many pre / early teens. Oh and the Tove Jansson / ZX Spectrum love - oh yes indeedy! Superb stuff!

"Lucy the Octopus" by Richy K. Chandler is out now, published by Jessica Kingsley Publishing (kindly supplied for review).