‘The Octopus, Dadu and Me,’ by Lucy Ann Unwin, cover by Selom Sunu, illustrations by Lucy Mulligan.

This is my first read of 2023 and I had high hopes based on what I’d read online. I wasn’t definitely not disappointed – I read the whole book in a day as I was so caught up to Sashi’s story.

‘FACT: Octopuses have three hearts.

FACT: Octopuses have BEAKS, like BIRDS.

FACT: The octopus at the aquarium is psychic!

Sashi feels like she has three hearts and they’re all breaking. She’s losing her beloved Dadu to dementia, and her parents don’t even want her to visit him any more.

She hides from her grief in the aquarium, and that’s where she meets Ian.

Like her Dadu, Ian is trapped. Like her Dadu, Ian should be at home with his family. And then Ian tells her he’s in danger and only she can help him escape.’

As I said, I went into this book with high hopes and wasn’t disappointed. It would be a great choice for any readers aged 9+ who are looking for a book which has substance as well as plenty of illustrations, comic strips, and moments of light relief.

Although this story is based around Sashi’s Dadu’s dementia-related decline, it still manages to incorporate moments of humour, realistic tween friendships, and more facts about octopuses than you ever knew you needed to know! It also features lots of wonderful comic book style illustrations as created by Sashi.

I think readers will really relate to the self-doubt Sashi feels as she navigates those tricky tween friendships and her grief-fuelled anger at her parents when they decide she should no longer visit Dadu at his care home when his condition deteriorates. It sensitively explores her sense of loss for the fun-loving, inquisitive grandparent she once had and how she struggles to adapt to a new way of interacting with him.

A great read!


*Many thanks to Uclan Publishing for sending me this title to review*

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