Monday, July 30, 2012

The Shark King

Nanaue is not your average little boy. For one thing, he sports some mean snapping jaws between his shoulder blades. Perhaps that's because Dad is the Shark King, a shape-shifter who fell in love with Nanaue's mother, a mere mortal.

The Shark King, one of Toon's graphic novels, retells a Hawaiian legend, adapting it for beginning readers. The story is simple, yet powerful. Nanaue's father leaves the night before his son is born, and the boy grows up yearning for him. That doesn't stop Nanaue from enjoying his prowess in the water. A fast swimmer, he boasts, "No fish in the sea can outswim me!"

Nanaue also has a bottomless pit for a stomach and devours fish. (He is half shark, after all.) His appetite gets him into trouble when he sabotages the local fishermen's catches. Pursued by them, he leaps into the ocean and finds his way to his father. His mother? She's left behind, but she's obviously not the clingy sort. She's content to savor the tasty sea snails they drop off for her.

What I like best about this book is the bold, vivid artwork. R. Kikuo Johnson does an excellent job of conveying action and pacing his story. Kids will be completely absorbed as they flip the pages, wondering what will happen to Nanaue next.

The Shark King
by R. Kikuo Johnson
Toon Books, 40 pages
Published: April 2012

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