The Aquanaut: A Graphic Novel

Scholastic/Graphix. Mar. 2022. 256p. Tr $24.99. ISBN 9780545497602. pap. $12.99. ISBN 9780545497619. .
Gr 3-7–A tragic accident at sea claims the research vessel Miette and the life of its captain, renowned marine biologist Michel Revoy. Five years later, Michel’s brother, Paul—also a marine biologist—is attempting to keep their research alive while raising Michel’s daughter, Sophia, when Paul and Sophia make a shocking discovery: four of the sea creatures from the Miette have resurfaced! Disguising themselves as a human in Michel’s old diving suit, the creatures search for safety at the Revoy-founded Aqualand marine reserve. Marigold and tangerine-orange coloring contrasts with shades of teal to help set the story’s mood, which rotates between the light, comedic high jinks of extremely intelligent sea creatures and somber moments of loss, empathy, and understanding. Santat expertly uses numerous two-page spreads to provide a sense of scale, both to the various creatures and humans as well as to the world they are trying to navigate. In a story that requires some suspension of disbelief, it’s the sea creatures who provide the most depth in their characterization as they overcome fear for their own safety to support those around them, leaving the humans to follow their lead toward a more just world. Multiple time jumps keep the story moving forward after big reveals, and back matter includes a creator’s note and character sketches.
VERDICT An endearing tale of love, loss, and the value of family—biological and found—this is recommended for readers who want gentle inspiration to do what is right, even if it involves compromise or sacrifice.

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