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The Octonauts is something that came onto my Radar from me seeing my children watch this on the childrens channel cbeebies. It was a series that immediately held appeal to me because I have a background as a science teacher, and I felt that it had a lot of content about various sea creatures and it introduced young children to quite complex scientific ideas. I was most impressed when my son could explain to me what symbiotic meant after watching the series as it was a concept I taught to children in year seven or eight at least, and again for GCSE. Yet, it was done in a way that kids could understand and learn from.
When I saw books from the series, I was keen that my kids followed up what they had seen by reinforcing with a book. We read books at least on a daily basis, and my children are keen to see characters that they are familiar with from TV in a book format.
This book is based upon an episode they have seen on TV, and they have enjoyed reading it tremdously. I have found it a good inbetween book as they have moved past the toddler years. It is interesting to them, and at 20 pages long, it also contains a decent amount of text to hold my childrens attention.
The book is quite small and square in shape, so it is ideal for a child to hold by themselves. It starts off with a page showing all the characters alongside their name. Each page does contain a significant amount of text but it is not too offputting for my kids to listen to me read this or to attempt parts of it themselves. I feel it sticks quite well to the format of the show. The story is familiar because it follows how it was told on TV, and on certain pages there are little fact boxes to describe technical items in the story (like a radar dish) in more detail so the child is not left confused.
The story is quite a nice one. The Octonauts notice that their radar dish is broken. When they go out to fix it they find that the equipment has been stolen. To add to the mystery, other belongings keep disappearing, and they are keen to get it back. It turns out a decorator crab has taken the things to try and disguise himself from predators. The Octonauts help the decorator crab and manage to get their belongings back.
The story is lovely and familiar. I love how each episode or story gives a good description about what a certain type of sea creature is like, and it does stick in a childs mind. My youngest has been in foundation class and needed to write in a book every morning. When he was asked to answer a question about naming three creatures that live in the sea, one of his answers was decorator crab. Most children would just say crab. It was obvious to me that the book made a lasting impression on him.
My eldest son is now just at the stage of being able to read this to himself, and I feel that although there is a lot of text it is set up in a supportive way to encourage early readers.
The illustrations are busy and will be familiar to any child who has watched the show on TV. Those that haven't will enjoy looking at the scenes under the sea as there is a lot to see and discuss.
Overall, the link to the TV show works well, but I think this book also stands up very strongly as a story in its own right and would still have had great appeal with my children.
The Octonauts are very loveable and engaging characters, and children will learn from these books without even realising it.
As a teacher, I applaud anything that approaches scientific terms in a way that educates children without putting them off. If I were still in a teaching environment, I would have no hesitation showing clips from this show to low ability groups to explain key concepts as it is done so well at a basic level.
I find this book enjoyable as well as educational, and we all recommend it.