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Review: Top 10 Deadliest Sharks

Silver Dragon Books, the new children’s graphic novel division of Zenescope Entertainment, launches with its first book: a nonfiction graphic novel about sharks, the first of three being produced in conjunction with the Discovery Channel.

Top 10 Deadliest Sharks
Author: Joe Brusha
Art: Anthony Spay, Shawn McCauley, Marcio Abreu, Agustin Alessio, German Nobile, HG Young, Gabriel Rearte, Shawn Van Briesen; Colors: Andrew Elder, John Hunt; Letters: Jim Campbell
Ages: 8-12; Grades: 3-6
Silver Dragon Books, December 2010, ISBN 978-0-9827507-2-8
120 pages, $9.99

Like Capstone Press’ Max Axiom series of scientific nonfiction graphic novels (reviewed here by me and my colleague Esther), Top 10 Deadliest Sharks doesn’t really need to be in the graphic novel format. The pages are mostly text boxes of information laid out over panels of art. Only a very few pages feature anyone speaking. However, that didn’t bother me while I was reading it. Instead I enjoyed the visuals and felt they kept the story exciting. The information presented is interesting and is broken down enough that the text boxes aren’t laden with material. The panels are nicely varied in size and shape, with many of them overlapping. And the images are clear with a lot of realistic, easy-to-follow action and just the right amount of blood and guts. (A confession: I’m terrified of deep water and what lives therein, so if the gore wasn’t too much for me, it definitely won’t be too much for an elementary school aged shark fanatic. He or she might actually wish for a bit more!)

Considering the number of artists who worked on this book, I was surprised to see how smoothly each chapter flowed into the next. The artwork was similar enough that there was no discernable break between artists. There was also a careful focus on realism, especially when drawing the undersea environments, an important factor when crafting a nonfiction graphic novel. Each chapter opens with a two-page fact sheet about the shark in question. Those pages are followed by the graphic novel portions which tell a story or give some historical details about the shark. The only information which seemed lacking to me was how the “top 10″ sharks were selected. I am assuming, from hints in the book, that they are the sharks which scientists consider the deadliest, but there wasn’t an explanation of why they earned their spot on the list. Otherwise, I feel like I learned quite a few things about sharks, their habits, and more.

For a first effort, Silver Dragon Books has put together a solid, interesting graphic novel. It won’t wow anyone with new and innovative uses of the medium, but it will attract readers with a pleasing blend of environmentalism, information, folklore, and, of course, gory shark attack stories. This combination of elements should be familiar to anyone who watches Discovery Channel’s popular annual “Shark Week.” Both graphic novel readers and nonfiction readers will be drawn to the book’s eye-catching cover. The paperback binding seems sturdy enough to withstand check-outs and the $9.99 cover price is more than reasonable. I, for one, am looking forward to Silver Dragon and Discovery Channel’s second effort together: Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Predators, due out in 2011.

This review is based on a complimentary copy supplied by the publisher. All images copyright © Silver Dragon Books.

Snow Wildsmith About Snow Wildsmith

Snow Wildsmith is a writer and former teen librarian. She has served on several committees for the American Library Association/Young Adult Library Services Association, including the 2010 Michael L. Printz Award Committee. She reviews graphic novels for Booklist, ICv2's Guide, No Flying No Tights, and Good Comics for Kids and also writes booktalks and creates recommended reading lists for Ebsco's NoveList database. Currently she is working on her first books, a nonfiction series for teens.

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