An Octopus Among Us

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

Congratulations, Lucy!

Mona Kanin
Mona Kanin has been writing stories since the 3rd grade. Her first manuscript was a fictionalized novel based on the life of her family’s mutt Gigi. She began her adult life with an MSLS from Simmons College and a job as a children's librarian at the Boston Public Library. She also attended courses at the Center for Children’s Literature. When she and her young family moved to Washington, D.C., she segued into a long career as a writer and producer for non-fiction film and television. Today, she works on various political projects and writes picture books from her home in Brooklyn, New York. She's happy to belong to and contribute to the Inked Voices community.