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  • Writer's pictureLori Mortensen

It's an Octopus Book Launch with Mrs. Dalloway's Bookstore

After a boat load of anticipation, ARLO DRAWS AN OCTOPUS, hit the bookshelves with a SPLASH on May 4, 2021! Hooray! To celebrate, illustrator, Rob Sayegh, Jr., and I teamed up with the wonderful people at Mrs. Dalloway's Bookstore in Berkeley, California, for an exciting virtual author/illustrator mashup.


I began our event by sharing how this story was inspired by my own memories of drawing at the kitchen table with my sister. Although we always enjoyed drawing together, sometimes I couldn't help comparing my drawings to hers. Since she was nearly three years older than I was, her drawings always seemed better than mine. It didn't seem fair, especially since she was always going to be older than me. It seemed like my drawings were doomed to come in second.

So one day when I sat down to write a story, I remembered all of those troubling feelings and turned it into a story with Arlo as the main character. I knew Arlo would try to draw something and each time, he'd get more and more frustrated . . . until what? That's the moment I had to put on my author thinking cap and figure out what would happen next. The story could have gone in a lot of different directions. But when I came up with this particular ending, I was tickled to imagine that Arlo could see his drawing in a new way and realize that his drawings were actually wonderful all along.

Octopus Storytime

Then, I read ARLO DRAWS AN OCTOPUS to what could only be a crowd of octopus-loving artists. It was especially fun to read the words I labored over and bring Arlo's story to life word by word and page by page.

Here's . . . Rob Sayegh!

Next, Rob took the virtual stage. He dazzled guests with the fascinating story of how he developed the characters and how he included terrific visual clues in the endpapers that begin to tell the story even before the actual words appear. He also shared a great secret. To capture the childlike drawings of the dump truck and alligator early in the story, Rob drew them with his left hand. What a great idea!

Then, viewers got the chance to draw an octopus with Rob. He made it look easy! First, the round head, those eight squiggly arms, then all of those suction cups. Viola! An Arlo octopus!

We wrapped up our event with a great Q&A session, including what readers could look forward to from both of us in the coming months. Hooray! To see our crowdcast book launch event click here. Buy copies signed by the author and illustrator at Mrs. Dalloway's.

Thanks Mrs. Dalloways! It's always a pleasure.

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