The Aquanaut: A Graphic Novel by Dan Santat

Published by Graphix

Summary:  In the prologue to the story, brothers Paul and Michel are struggling to survive as their research vessel fills with water.  Paul makes it; Michel does not.  Five years later, Paul is raising Michel’s daughter Sophie and trying to keep their research going at a San Diego theme park called Aqualand.  One day a mysterious being dressed in an old diving suit rises out of the ocean and pays a visit to Sophie.  It turns out to be a group of small ocean animals seeking refuge from the dangers of the sea.  Things get chaotic when they make it to Aqualand, where they rescue an orca whale and try to help Uncle Paul from a greedy investor who wants to capitalize on the brothers’ research.  As the Aquanaut’s crew races to escape the bad guys, they wind up back in the ocean in a scene that seems to be playing out the same way Michel’s ship sank.  There are happy endings for everyone, though, as the animals learn that love can overcome fear and the humans realize that family is more important than careers or money.  Includes an author’s note with additional artwork and some explanations about the genesis and development of the story.  256 pages; grades 3-7.

Pros:  The nonstop action, compelling story, interesting sea creatures, and especially the gorgeous illustrations by Caldecott Medalist Dan Santat make this a book that is sure to be embraced and savored by a wide range of graphic novel fans.

Cons:  The plot was a bit convoluted, and I’m not sure I got all the nuances of it.

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