The Shark King
The Shark King
Toon Level 3
Toon Books, Hardcover, 9781935179160, 40pp.
Publication Date: April 10, 2012
R. Kikuo Johnson was born in 1981 on the island of Maui, Hawaii. After graduating from Rhode Island School of Design (BFA '03), he moved to Brooklyn, New York, where he currently draws comics and plays the ukulele. He returns to Maui as often as possible.
Johnson’s beautiful, graphic style recalls, of all things, Gilbert Hernandez’ early Palomar comics, with zippy figures set against equatorial backgrounds distinguished by a few key features—a waterfall and fruit tree here, a tidal pool and coral reef there. The crafty panel layouts plunge into a couple of full-bleed splash pages with all the exhilaration of a high dive. While simple enough to keep brand-new and below-level readers in tow—and strengthen their vocabulary with contextual clues—this charming, high-energy Hawaiian fable will reveal deeper layers to more intuitive readers.
—Booklist (starred review)
Sharks, superpowers, and the comic-panel format will initially lure in readers, but the subtext of bullying, parental separation, and self-discovery will stay with them long afterward. The characters’ rounded black outlines convey strong energy and emotion, while the panels and spreads feature a lush, colorful Hawaiian setting.
—The Horn Book (starred review)
This graphic novel, which works either as a read-aloud or as a step toward chapter books for young readers, offers a story especially appealing to boys who long to be just like Dad.
—The New York Times