Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Octonauts - Review

The past 6 months has launched my family into the world of the Octonauts, thanks to the television show now on Disney and Disney Jr., but mostly due to the passion it has inspired in my 2 yr old son.  This new avenue of preschool animation has actually been around for 2 years, and started before that as a series of children's books by Meomi (see for more info). So, of course I had to start researching and our first book, purchased through was the Octonauts and the Whale Shark. My son actually has a 3' plush whale shark purchased by a close friend from the Georgia Aquarium gift shop. This toy MUST accompany him every time he sees this episode.  This was his favorite episode (at first) and he would ask for it by name again and again (thank you DVR as this is not yet available on DVD!).

The most important thing to take away from the television program is perhaps the amazing "creature report" sang at the end of each 15 minute episode.  In the books, it is a "fact file" page instead, but the information is still there and shockingly accurate. I have a degree in marine biology and get annoyed when adults refer to clownfish as "Nemo-fish", so for me to say that this show is SPECTACULAR is a very big deal considering the topics and content.  My toddler was repeating words like "symbosis" after only a few episodes (that particular term came from the "Crab & Urchin" program) and absolutely knows far more species of marine animals than I did when I was 10 years old!
The books are actually at a higher level than the animated series, from an age standpoint. While a toddler will sing and dance and likely pay attention for 15 minutes, the books are not just picture books and have several sentences on each page.  This is great for 4 & 5 years olds, but less so for littler ones.  The tv shows is literally the same as the book - virtually word for word, so you are definitely giving kids a solid lesson whether they are watching the show or reading the book.

RATING: ~~~~~ (that's right, 5 out of 5!)

Except for having to order everything from the UK, and therefore waiting for weeks to get the materials, I highly recommend this book and other Octonauts books. Especially for those who have a love for the ocean, and really struggle with finding cool stuff for the children including those of friends and family members. Even a marine biologist would not be offended by the child friendly characters because of its accuracy. On another note, as an aircraft mechanic I was also very happy to see that the resident mechanic on the Octopod is Tweak, a female rabbit. Nice!

We are now moving on the action figures - who knows how that will turn out. I must wait 18-24 days for the packages to clear customs and see for myself.

Here is some general information if you want to know more:

Thie link below will take you to the general site, but you won't find merchandise here.  It does have interactive games where you can rescue animals with three of the main characters, Kwazi the former pirate cat, Peso the penguin medic, and also Captain Barnacles the polar bear. There are wallpapers and coloring pages to download/print, bios on each character, links to all sorts of octo-mania.  I will warn you that while the show is definitely for preschool age children and up, the games will definitely require some parental assistance using the arrow keys to manuever around the first times that you play. I highly recommend initially exploring this site on your own and without a little one in your lap squealing with delight every time one of the characters interacts with the viewer (they might even get a bit too excited, lean on the keyboard and then mass chaos follows when the screen disappears). You have been warned.
Speaking of octomania - the facebook page is really the way to plug yourself in directly to all the crazy Octonaut fans and families around the world. Do not expect all posts to be in english, though, because the Octonauts are published and popular in Japan, Germany, France, Finland, Sweden, and more.
And, yes, I "like" this page too - although you are not so likely to see me posting there (yet).

Dance with the show and your toddler, enjoy the books and read it to a child, laugh when you start finding the Octonauts everywhere you go - because I am certain this is the next Dora and Diego.



Anonymous said...

found your blog through a tweet from Monterey Bay Aquarium. Really love it. Am in the UK and have a mini Octonaut too.

Callie Sharkey said...

That's fantastic! I am glad you enjoyed it and appreciate the comment!