What happens when I go to the library and find a graphic novel I have never read, AND it's about a Hawaiian legend? OH HAPPY DAY! I know, I'm such a comic book nerd, but these are the kind of things that really make my heart smile!
The Shark King, by R. Kikuo Johnson is a based on a Hawaiian legend of a child, Nanaue, born to a human and a "shape shifter" Shark King. As he grows, he discovers his true origin, and clashes with the human world when he unwittingly requires all the fishing stock for food. He is a boy who, like many kids, don't fit in, and has to go back to his roots, in this case the ocean, to survive. A version of The Little Mermaid, or Ponyo.
I really like the more unconventional visual style of graphic novel he chose. He draws panels in different shapes (other than square), and the action occurs within and outside of them, loosely, more like a Japanese manga style. Perhaps a cultural Japanese influence in Hawaii.
This is a short graphic novel, beatifully told, of a non-European culture, in an interesting color palette and creative visual language. Perfect for K-3. High score on my diversity scale!
Spreading the word about diverse, multi-cultural books.