CM . . .
. Volume XIII Number 7 . . . . November 24, 2006
Meomi, the design team of Vicki Wong from Vancouver, BC, and Michael Murphy from Los Angeles, CA, has created a troupe of eight characters called the Octonauts. The crew includes a brainy octopus, a brave polar bear, a daredevil kitten, a scientific sea otter, an adorable penguin, a paddling dog, a glow-in-the-dark bunny and a vegimal!
One fine day, their Octopod is attacked by a giant monster with “large ferocious eyes and many long tangly legs.” When the Octonauts confront the monster, they find out that he does not mean to harm them at all but is, in fact, looking for a friend! The Octonauts agree to help him in his quest to find another monster just like himself. They set off on their journey to the four corners of the Earth – North, East, West and South. However, wherever they look, they cannot find another giant tentacle monster. What will happen now? The ending teaches the reader a lesson about friendship and individuality.
The Octonauts are a team of eight engaging characters which will no doubt appeal to young children. The Hello Kitty brand has been remarkably successful in the media. The characters are engaged in exciting adventures throughout the world and display characteristics to which young children can relate – seeking adventure, seeing the value in ordinary life, using technology, and appreciating one’s friends. However, the premise of the book – a lonely monster looking for love – has been done before in many different books.
The illustrations are very impressive with their emphasis on powerful colours, intricate detail and appealing graphic images. Each of the Octonauts has its own unique visual personality. The colourful depiction of underwater scenery and various corners of the Earth would appeal to the imagination and adventurous spirit of the young reader. The inclusion of technology in various graphic depictions – submarines, Octopods, radios, control rooms etc. - would also appeal to children who are consumers of technology each and every day! In the future, the characters will no doubt also provide product tie?]ins for toys, clothing and other merchandise.
The Octonauts & the Only Lonely Monster could be used as a read aloud for children at home and with students in primary classrooms. Meomi’s story will inspire discussion about issues as far ranging as underwater creatures, monsters, submarines, friendship, traveling to different parts of the world, and individuality.
Myra Junyk, the former Program Co-ordinator of Language Arts and Library Services at the Toronto Catholic District School Board, currently is working as a literacy advocate and author.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.