Storytime: I grew up thirty minutes from the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard (scene of Shark Week, setting of Jaws, and summer home to a lot of very rich people). It’s such a fun island because it’s the epitome of small New England old money/ Historical Society… where reggae music blasts most of the summer.
So when I had the opportunity to review Ira Marcks’ debut graphic novel SHARK SUMMER, which is set there, for #Book Allies, I jumped on it!
Newish kid in town Gayle started the summer losing the championship softball game for her new team and breaking her arm. The massive ambulance/hospital bills jeopardized Gayle’s mom’s plans to open an ice cream stand.
Fortunately, Gayle teams up with new friends “Ghastly Maddie” and Hollywood kid Elijah to win a youth film contest with a big cash prize. But the strange trio soon stumble onto
- Marcks nails, and I mean NAILS, the entire zeitgeist of Southeastern Massachusetts and the islands – from the abundance of creepy legends, to the wealth of small businesses, to the uneasy coexistence of tourists and locals. #homesick
- Cool facts about sharks, Martha’s Vineyard, and the art of storytelling sneakily woven in.
- Shout-out for Deaf representation (in the form of Maddie’s too-nerdy-to-not-be-cool dad).
- Extremely powerful themes of friendship, acceptance, and the stories we tell ourselves and others.
Mention of a creepy shark cult (not graphic); part of the legend involves a dead criminal being fed to a mythical shark.
Frankly, as an adult reader, I thought this was all really freaking cool.
With a major “JAWS x Scooby Doo (with more likable sleuths)” vibe and strong themes of friendship and acceptance, this book can best be described as a literary graphic novel. But kids aren’t going to see all that quality because – graphic novel and SHARKS.
As always, thank you #BookAllies, Little Brown Young Readers, and Ira Marckus for the review copy. All opinions are my own, etc.
SHARK SUMMER is available now.
- Publisher : Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (May 25, 2021)
- Paperback : 304 pages
- Reading age : 8 – 12 years
- Grade level : 3 – 7