The sea is full of surprises today.
Stunningly beautiful, with more than a nod to Gilbert Hernandez on almost every full-colour page, this is from R. Kikuo Johnson whose debut NIGHT FISHER was so electrifyingly impressive it would have definitely been Page 45 Comicbook Of The Month had it only existed back then.
Its a short childrens story based on the Hawaiian legend of the shape-shifting shark god Kamohoalii who terrifies then rescues a woman prisings limpet from an outcrop of rocks above treacherously deep waters. Soon they are married, then the mothers with child. Born with an instant affinity to water and a ravenous appetite beyond his tiny body, Nanaue cant help snatching the fishermens quarry from out of their nets right under their noses, but his inability to control the shark side dormant within finally gives the game away and he flees from the beach for his life. Thankfully, the moment has been prepared for
The poignancy for me lies in the wife and mother losing both her loved ones, one after the other, to the sea. Its their nature, their destiny, but Id reassure your children theyll be back. Nanaue yearns for his father but at least has his mother who copes as best she can when Nanaue brings home his increasingly unwieldy daily catch: going to need a bigger cooking pot!
Young eyes will sparkle over the subaquatic dives. Likely theyll be terrified by the majestic silhouette of the kings true finned form placed so perfectly on the page. Theyll laugh out loud at the snap-snap snapping of the hungry jaws morphing out of the young boys back. Me, Im still in awe of the opening, early morning splash page as the young woman leaps over the rocks below the waterfall in search of her sea snails, the verdant misty mountains cast in cool, purple shadow, the sky behind a bright yellow.
Published by Françoise Moulys Toon imprint (yes, that Françoise Mouly, for this is RAW Junior) the book even has some top tips for teachers and parents in the back when exploring these books with young minds. Theres also a website you can visit for free online lesson plans etc. Its really quite the package and this is far and away the finest book in the range so far.