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THE SHARK KING by R. Kikuo Johnson


by R. Kikuo Johnson & illustrated by R. Kikuo Johnson

Pub Date: April 1st, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-935179-16-0
Publisher: TOON/Candlewick

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)