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Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Shark Girl and Belly Button (Graphic Novel)

by Casey Riordan Miller

Publisher: Blue Manatee Press (September 1, 2014)

Hardcover 40 pages

Finished 10/30/2017

Amazon Listing

    Shark Girl, for those outside of Cleveland and Buffalo, is a sculpture of a little girl dressed, I imagine, as Alice in Wonderland (or at least in that style) with the head of a shark- reminiscent of the poster from Jaws. You can see it in the picture below. It was initially presented in Cincinnati and became a local hit, but the city didn’t want to pay for it, perhaps believing that it was owed them or something. So the elders of Buffalo, operating through the Albright Knox Art Gallery, swooped in and snapped it up for a mere ten thousand or so. It is now proudly displayed in Downtown Buffalo, and there are other objets d’art associated with the character, such as this book. 

    I bought two copies. One for my five nieces and nephews and one for myself, since I liked the artwork. The kids hated it, but I enjoyed it. So don’t be deceived, this isn’t a children's book. It is meant for adults, but crafted in the style of kid’s morality tale. There are no simple answers here, but the narrative reflects the nature of friendship between two deceptively complex characters.
    There are five short stories here all dealing with various anxieties of life: jealousy, fear, covetousness, guilt, and love. Shark Girl represented the fears of life, the unexpected jolts that our journey through the world can take. While Belly Button is a comfort animal, the safety blanket of the duo, there to reassure. Like all great literature, the stories are simple and deep simultaneously, and can be read as a pleasant little diversion or as a more complex discussion of the human condition. The art is bright and colorful, the binding is sturdy, and the cover is crisp and attractive. The only minor complaint I would have is that most of the art is limited to the two characters, I would have liked to see more of what the author could do. To see her flex her artistic muscles a little more. 

           For more readings, try books by Rex Hurst. 

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