Roof Octopus, by Lucy Branam
Release Date: March 1, 2018
Sleeping Bear Press
Inked Voices member Lucy Branam was writing short fiction when she wrote the first draft of a story about an octopus. It occurred to her that the idea might make a compelling picture book. The book’s publication moved forward after Lucy attended SCBWI Mid-South Conference the fall of 2015. She had a productive one-on-one session with editor Sarah Rockett. Sarah gave Lucy notes, Lucy redrafted and resubmitted, and in a little under a year, Lucy had a contract.
From the opening pages, Lucy adeptly transports us into the fantasy world of Roof Octopus.
Her mother looked out, too. “I don’t see anything.”
Then a tentacle dropped down from above and wrapped itself around the fire escape railing.
The author grabs young readers by the tentacles of a whimsically crafted, larger-than-life sea creature who’s come to visit us in a city. Protagonist Nora makes first contact with the octopus. Of course, adult characters are unsure how to react or interact with their new neighbor.
We’re so immersed in the story, so captured by moments of magic and surprise, we’re unaware of the beautifully wrought gears behind Lucy’s work. Her words are animated with a clear understanding of a child’s world and concerns.
Brazilian illustrator Rogério Coelho has the temperament and skills to match Lucy’s. He creates a diverse urban landscape that is enchanted and embellished. The author and illustrator worked individually, often the case in debut books. But, the illustrations are so in sync with the words that the direct inspiration of the writing on the pictures is obvious.
Lucy, a recent college graduate, studied creative writing and graphic design. For, the moment, she’d rather work with other illustrators she admires than illustrate her own stories. Lucy does not have an agent, but has new stories in the works.
Lucy’s favorite childhood picture books include:
The Night the Scary Beasties Popped Out of My Head by Daniel and David Kamish
Piggies by Audrey Wood and Don Wood
Lucy’s Picture by Nicola Moon
My Friend Harry by Kim Lewis
Stellaluna by Janell Cannon
Harry and the Terrible Whatzit by Dick Gackenbach
Some picture books Lucy enjoys despite first reading them as an adult:
The Dark by Lemony Snicket
Those Darn Squirrels! By Adam Rubin
The Wolves in the Walls by Neil Gaiman