by Dan Santat
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Content: There’s a death of a parent, and mistreatment of animals. It’s in the middle grade graphic novel section of the bookstore.
Ever since her father, an marine researcher, died in a boating accident while out on the ocean, Sophia (and her Uncle Paul, who is taking care of her) has been just trying to survive. The place Paul and his brother built, Aqualand, is being run by a team of investors who don’t care about science, and Sophia’s grades are becoming worse and worse. And then, one day, a team of underwater creatures show up in Sophia’s father’s old diving suit.
It would just be easy to say: And then all havoc breaks loose. But it’s more than that. Paul and Sophia learn they need to actually try and grieve their loss and grow together as a family. Paul stands up to his investors, and less aqua land, but gains his dignity back. And the animals work together as a crew, while Sodapop (a hermit crab, I think) faces his fears of a giant squid. It’s about growth and togetherness and grief, with an underlying message about conservation and science, and maybe amusement parks that capture wild animals to put them in cages are bad.
I adore Santat’s heartfelt storytelling, and enjoy his art as well. This one is definitely one to hand to everyone, kids and adults alike.