The origin of shark boy

THE SHARK KING

THE SHARK KING

THE SHARK KING
By R. Kikuo Johnson (Sommerville, Mass.: Candlewick Press, 2012, 40 pp., $12.95, hardcover)

A beautiful and colorful illustrated comic, Johnson tells the story of Nanaue, the son of Kalei and the Shark King. Set in Hawai‘i in the unspecified past, Nanaue’s story is both fun and mystical.

Kalei is rescued from drowning by a stranger one day while gathering opihi. Kalei is smitten and marries him. Out of their marriage, a son is born, but his father reveals himself to be the Shark King and leaves Kalei one day before Nanaue’s birth. Kalei raises Nanaue, a healthy child with a ferocious appetite and a not-quite-human shark mouth, with a mind of its own, on his back.

Nanaue loves to swim and eat. He combines his passions by poaching the local village’s fishing catch, which causes the neighboring village to starve. He ultimately flees into the sea to join his father, the Shark King as Kalei watches on.
The book is for children in second and third grade. The book also contains a helpful section for parents giving tips on how they can read the book with their children.

Disregarding the fact that the Shark King is rude for almost drowning Kalei and abandoning her at one of the most crucial moments of her life, and the fact that Nanaue literally tormented an entire village with starvation, “The Shark King” offers an inspiring story about adventure and magic.

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