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
About the Author
R. Kikuo Johnson
grew up in Hawaii on the island of Maui. For generations, native Hawaiians have told tales of the shape-shifting shark god Kamohaoali’i; The Shark King
is the artist’s version of one such tale about the insatiable appetite of Kamohoali’i’s son, Nanaue. Kikuo’s 2005 graphic novel Night Fisher
— also set in Hawaii — earned him both a Harvey Award and the Russ Manning Award for best new cartoonist. He spent his childhood exploring the rocky shore at low tide in front of his grandmother’s house and diving with his older brother. Since moving to the mainland, Kikuo has discovered the joys of swimming in fresh water and currently lives in Brooklyn, New York, where he enjoys cooking, playing his ukulele, and riding his bike all over the city.