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THE SHARK KING

A myth involving rampant anthropophagy transformed into a lightly sketched tale of parent-child bonding.

The Shark King’s deadly son gets an extreme makeover in this version of a traditional tale from Hawaii.

Born to a loving human woman, Nanaue is a happy child (rather than the flesh-eating monster of yore) with a huge appetite and a jagged line on his back that sometimes opens into a snapping, toothy mouth. His mischievous nature soon leads him into trouble, and he dives off a cliff to escape angry villagers from whom he had been stealing fish. This unites him with his father—a huge shark who had taken human form to marry Nanaue’s mother, Kalei, but returned to the sea on the night of his birth. Johnson presents a quickly told story in bright, fluidly drawn sequential panels of varying size and shape, with a mix of narrative and dialogue. Set against a rocky shoreline and underwater scenes teeming with sea life, his brown-skinned, lightly clad characters gesture and move with smooth naturalism, displaying both distinct personalities and expressions from comical to noble.

A myth involving rampant anthropophagy transformed into a lightly sketched tale of parent-child bonding. (Graphic folktale. 7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-935179-16-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: TOON/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Feb. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2012

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DOG MAN

From the Dog Man series , Vol. 1

What a wag.

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What do you get from sewing the head of a smart dog onto the body of a tough police officer? A new superhero from the incorrigible creator of Captain Underpants.

Finding a stack of old Dog Mancomics that got them in trouble back in first grade, George and Harold decide to craft a set of new(ish) adventures with (more or less) improved art and spelling. These begin with an origin tale (“A Hero Is Unleashed”), go on to a fiendish attempt to replace the chief of police with a “Robo Chief” and then a temporarily successful scheme to make everyone stupid by erasing all the words from every book (“Book ’Em, Dog Man”), and finish off with a sort of attempted alien invasion evocatively titled “Weenie Wars: The Franks Awaken.” In each, Dog Man squares off against baddies (including superinventor/archnemesis Petey the cat) and saves the day with a clever notion. With occasional pauses for Flip-O-Rama featurettes, the tales are all framed in brightly colored sequential panels with hand-lettered dialogue (“How do you feel, old friend?” “Ruff!”) and narrative. The figures are studiously diverse, with police officers of both genders on view and George, the chief, and several other members of the supporting cast colored in various shades of brown. Pilkey closes as customary with drawing exercises, plus a promise that the canine crusader will be further unleashed in a sequel.

What a wag. (Graphic fantasy. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-58160-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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SARDINE IN OUTER SPACE

Taking a seat in first class aboard the graphic-novels-for-preteens train, this import features a carrot-topped lass who travels the starways with her piratical uncle Yellow Shoulders, foiling the plots of Supermuscleman, nefarious Chief Executive Dictator of the Universe. Presented in small sequential panels of brightly hued cartoon art and spacious dialogue balloons, Sardine’s adventures take her from the space prison Azkatraz to Planet Discoball (for a dance contest presided over by Empress Laser Diskette and her offspring, Prince Beejeez), from encounters with deadly, as well as thoroughly nerve-wracking, Honkfish to a deliciously violent round of “No-Child-Left-Behind-School II,” a virtual game. With nonstop action, humor geared to multiple levels of cultural awareness and the promise of more episodes to come, even readers stubbornly resisting the trendy format’s lure will find that, as Supermuscleman sneers shortly before gorily blasting his own foot, “Resistance is futile.” (Graphic novel. 7-9)

Pub Date: May 1, 2006

ISBN: 1-59643-126-1

Page Count: 128

Publisher: First Second/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2006

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