Everyone Wants an Octopus Book! is out in the world

Hooray – my latest picture book is well and truly out, so I thought it was about time to blog again!

Everyone Wants an Octopus Book! (written by me, illustrated by Makoto Koji and published by Bright Light at Hardie Grant Children’s Books) hit bookshop and library shelves in late-March. It’s essentially the story of an octopus named Inky who can’t find any books with characters like them, and their supportive duck friend, Quack, who encourages them to write their own. It’s a dialogue-only tale about the importance of seeing yourself in stories!

To celebrate its release, I held an online story time with the State Library of NSW, sharing stories, quizzes and craft with some preschools and schools. A great opportunity but slightly surreal in that you can’t actually see the kids via the Zoom screen so it was a bit like talking to myself?!

I’ve also been an author guest in the fabulous monthly Picture Book Book Club Twitter chat, which has a lovely mix of teacher librarians, authors and illustrators joining in and and sharing book recommendations, answering qs (topic for mine: Representation in Stories), and asking interesting things in an author Q&A at the end. I love participating in this virtual PB book club generally, so it was fun to be on the other side for a change! Yes, we still call it a Twitter chat, not an X chat, as that just doesn’t have the same ring to it! I’ve also done a few podcast interviews, which you can tune into below:

Words and Nerds takeover episode on Everyone Wants an Octopus Book!

On Dani Vee’s Words and Nerds podcast, I hosted a takeover episode with some fellow Bright Light picture book authors – Dr Zewlan Moor, sharing insights into her fantastic book Nothing Alike, and Sandhya Parappukkaran on her books like Stay for Dinner. We chatted about the common themes linking our picture books, like the way we cover tricky or zeitgeisty kind of topics, but in kid-centric, non-didactic ways. It was such an interesting chat and I always love hearing from these talented authors, two of my absolute faves!

Reading with a Chance of Tacos interview with Liz Ledden

Then in kidlit funfest Reading with a Chance of Tacos podcast, I chatted to host Ken Williams all about Everyone Wants an Octopus Book!, plus general ramblings on writing life, from different story formats to favourite places to write.

Speaking of podcasts, I was lucky enough to have Everyone Wants an Octopus Book! reviewed on another episode of Tacos by junior reviewer Liv, as well as on Your Kids Next Read, the kids’ book podcast hosted by Allison Tait and Megan Daley. And they all said nice things. Yay!

Liz Ledden interview on Just Write for Kids

And for an interview you can read rather than listen to, here’s a ‘Quick Six’ interview with Just Write for Kids blog, for yet more bookish background.

A few more new release highlights include some signings at local bookshops, a great review on CBCA Reading Time, and several airport bookshop sightings. I’ve yet to see it there myself, just via people’s pics. But – excitement! As far as I know, this is the first time I’ve had a book stocked in airports and I love the idea of it potentially being purchased and flown somewhere faraway! Some interstate pals have tagged and shared pics of my book in shops I’ve yet to visit, and it was part of Scholastic/ASO’s Standing Orders (curated book packs ordered by schools). Which also means teaching notes have been developed to support studying and enjoying the book in classrooms and school libraries. You can download them here.

Oh, and one other exciting moment was being on the program of a fantastic writers’ festival, Words on the Waves on the NSW Central Coast! I was part of the Ripples schools day, running workshops for primary school kids with creators like Binny Talib, Wai Chim, Pip Harry, Tim Harris, Tohby Riddle and my illustrator friend Nisaluk Chantanakom, whose beautiful debut picture book A Teaspoon of Light is now out. It was so much fun, and so exciting to be part of. Here’s some of us – not sure what happened with the weird light situation!

Words on the Waves festival_Liz Ledden

Thanks for reading this far on my new book wrap-up! One last thing … I’ve been thinking about blogging a bit lately and wondering if I should write here more regularly. Lots of authors and creators have launched Substack newsletters and as much as I love reading them, I’m not sure about starting something new and rustling up subscribers from scratch, when I have a pre-existing thing here all ready and waiting for me to update?! Okay, that settles it – blogging it is! Weird how blogs are so old school now?! But with social media becoming increasingly fragmented and with everyone so disillusioned with it, maybe reverting back to a home base like a blog is a good idea … will ponder some more and hopefully drop in here again soon!

Cover reveal: Everyone Wants an Octopus Book!

Super excited to share the cover of my upcoming picture book, EVERYONE WANTS AN OCTOPUS BOOK!, illustrated by Makoto Koji and published by Hardie Grant/Bright Light Publishing!

So, what’s it about? Besides octopuses, of course!

Everyone Wants an Octopus Book! is a thought-provoking picture book about about how everyone deserves to see themselves in books.

Inky the octopus wants to read a book with a character that looks like them. With their best friend, Quack the duck, they scour every shelf, but all they seem to find are more books about ducks! Why aren’t there any stories with octopuses? They decide maybe it’s time for one.

It’s due out in early-March 2024 and pre-orders are open here. Can’t wait to share more as time gets closer!