Quill & Quire
The Octonauts & the Frown Fish
is the third installment in a series of picture books created by the Vancouver/L.A.-based design duo Meomi, whose trendy Pokemon-meets-Brueghel-meets-Hello Kitty sensibility has made their commercial work a worldwide success. Meomi describes the Octonauts as “a team of eight adorable undersea explorers (including a brainy octopus, a big-hearted penguin and a daredevil kitten) who are always ready for new and exciting voyages.” This time out, they discover a “Frown Fish,” whose dolour, worrisomely, is starting to rub off on other sea creatures. The team tries a variety of methods to cheer up the Frown Fish.... The charm of this narrative and the considerable achievement of Meomi’s meticulous artwork are undermined by a number of factors. The whimsical illustrations, relying heavily on pastels and eschewing true blacks and whites, lack depth, and fail to draw the reader’s eye around the page, resulting in a barrage of competing information. Overall, the book’s perfect gradients and unerringly smooth lines lack any real warmth or idiosyncrasy – which makes it hard to identify with the undeniably cute, but generally expressionless, characters. One has to assume, also, that the authors did not try reading aloud such awkward invented terms such as “clamcapella group” or “sea horchestra.” In the end, we’re left with the sense that Meomi is more concerned with pleasing its design audience than its child readers. This is a book to be admired, not loved.
[The Octonauts & the Frown Fish] not only is filled with illustrations of cute stylized sea creatures, but the story itself is very appealing to young readers...For designers, illustrators and those in the media industry, this is a keepsake with its lovely illustration for reference and also educational purpose. Every page is filled with endearing soft sweet colors and there is not a single space that has no colors.For parents, this is suitable for young kids to get started on adventure and exciting stories, building up curiosity about science, biology and not to forget that inquisitive mind of a young reader for detective-styled storyline. You'll be surprised if you discover a little Sherlock Holmes in the making. All in all, the storyline is simply done, the illustrations are just marvelous and the characters are just adorable and innocent. Would be a good gift for this coming Christmas.” All About Kawaii