by George Ivanoff - March 12th, 2012
Explore! Rescue! Protect! No doubt this is a catchcry familiar to parents all over the world. The Octonauts television series (see my review over at Viewing Clutter) has been a HUGE hit with the kiddies, and both my daughters are obsessed with it. But guess what? It all started with books.
After daughter #1 discovered The Octonauts series, we went out looking for merchandise, hoping there might be books based on the show. And there were — lots of them. But we also discovered that there were four original picture books on which the series is based. So, of course, we bought them. Daughter #1 LOVES them and has read and re-read them so many times. A few weeks ago she read them to me, so I thought they might be worth a post.
The basic premise is that a group of anthropomorphised animals wander the Earth’s oceans in the Octopod (their mobile, octopus-like base of operations), exploring, rescuing sea creatures and protecting the environment. They are lead by Captain Barnacles (a polar bear) and include: Kwazii, a kitten with a piratical past; Peso, a penguin who is the group’s medic; Dashi the dachshund, photographer and computer expert; the group’s scientist, Dr. Shellington, a sea otter; Tweak the engineer, who’s a bunny; and Professor Inkling the brilliant octopus oceanographer and founder of the Octonauts. Oh, and there are a bunch of rather curious creatures called Vegimals, led by Tunip. They are part animal, part vegetable, and they seem to do the catering aboard the Octopod.
It’s interesting to note that the dachshund’s name was Sauci in the books as they were originally published by Immedium Inc. But the name appears to have changed for the HarperCollins editions and for the television series. Also interesting to note is that the well-known motto, “Explore! Rescue! Protect!”, does not appear in the books, as it was created for the series.
They are an interesting set of books with very distinctive and appealing illustrations. The stories contain a curious mix of genuine sea creatures and odd elements such as sentient shadows (see The Octonauts and the Seas of Shade), but the plots tend to lean towards the environmental. While the books are likeable, I actually prefer the series, which gives the main characters greater personality and focuses more on actual sea creatures. But Daughter #1 prefers the books because she thinks the characters are ‘cuter’ than in the series.
The books contain some rather amusing pop-culture references that had me grinning. Check out this page from The Octonauts and the Frown Fish…
In fact, The Octonauts and the Frown Fish is my favourite of the four books. In it, they encounter an extremely sad fish who appears to always be frowning. They spend most of the story trying to cheer him up. In the end, it turns out that the fish is not at all sad… rather, he is an extremely happy upside-down Catfish who has been smiling the whole time. Very cute!
Daughter #1’s favourite is The Octonauts and the Seas of Shade, mostly because it requires the reader to turn the book around for various pages as the orientation shifts.
The books are credited as being written and illustrated by MEOMI. MEOMI is the business name of the illustrating and design team of Vicki Wong and Michael Murphy. You can check out their website here.
And they also have a dedicated site for The Octonauts books.
These books are quite unique and well worth a look… especially if your kids have already discovered the television series.
Catch ya later, George
Check out my DVD blog, Viewing Clutter.
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