Building on the success of his first book Walking your Octopus – and spin off activity book Coloring with your Octopus – Brian Kesinger is back with more observations on taking your favourite cephalopod out of the house.
With an RRP of $29.95 (£20.10), it’s currently available on Amazon for £21.99 ($32.77).
The Otto and Victoria illustrative books are well established in the steampunk art world and beyond. The adventures of the beautiful Victorian Prismall and her affectionate land walking cephalopod Otto have brought amusement to all ages of steampunks. Brian Kesinger has been an artist from an early age working for Disney. He’s an established steampunk and the aim of the Otto and Victoria books are to highlight what it’s like looking after pets who are so close to you that they’re treated as family. The steampunk twist changes Otto from a dog or other family pet into a steampunk mascot. Kesinger has noted that the hardest part is thinking of things for each tentacle to do.
Travelling with your Octopus takes us on a global journey and we watch as Otto and Victoria sample the delights that are stereotypical of whichever country they happen to be in. Examples include tulips in Holland, Can Can dancing in France, Bagpipe playing in Scotland, Safari in Africa and Bull fighting in Spain. The latter has been changed to Octopus fighting and there’s a sentence that explains how the “fight” is actually a series of carefully choreographed near misses. The countries of the world aren’t the only places that our heroes visit but I don’t want to reveal too much.
The book is laid out in the style of an old silent film with a short paragraph of written text on the left page which gives a brief explanation of what’s happening in the picture opposite. The text is surrounded by fancy filigree while the picture has a border stamped with an Octopus in a gear mounted on a compass in each corner. Each image feels like a picture postcard from the old days due to the background stripes bearing some fatiguing and the (I assume) water painted foreground featuring blotches from where the water has pooled and dried leaving a tide mark of sorts. This simply adds to the enchanting artistry and displays the clear skill of Brian Kesinger as one cannot shake off the thought that this is a deliberate act.
The quality of the book is very good. It’s a matt finish exterior and feels very well made. The unusual shape makes it hard to store on a bookshelf, but it could be argued that it makes it a book for the reception room table.
Travelling with your Octopus, while a short read, is something that you can go back to time and again. The standard of art work and amusing captions makes it a book you can come back to and still have a little chuckle. In order to test the book for all ages, I read it to my children who are aged five and eight. They both really enjoyed the illustrations and asked questions which meant we could then discuss global cultures. I got the chance to explain about real bull fighting and how barbaric it is. Essentially, it allowed me to educate my children on important issues in a fun, colourful way. Sadly for me, they liked it so much it’s now on their bookshelf and not in my study where it belongs.
The only thing that I disagree with on the book is the price and especially – and this is no fault of Brian Kesinger – the RRP being less than what it’s actually selling for. I appreciate that it’s a recommended price, but I feel the author and publishers must know the value over Amazon. Given this I expanded my search and found that Forbidden Planet have it listed on their site at £15.00 ($22.36) which makes it more palatable.
Travelling with your Octopus is a lovely book to have around the house and to read to younger audiences. It’s a lovely read and worth the money.