Shark and Bot

Random. (Shark and Bot: Bk. 1). Sept. 2020. 96p. Tr $9.99. ISBN 9780593173350.
Gr 1-4–A great white shark and a robot become unlikely-but-fast friends in this new chapter book graphic novel. New kid Shark, who just arrived from Australia, feels a little like a cartilaginous marine superpredator out of water, despite his outgoing nature. Bot lives exactly 0.185 miles from the playground but is “not good at meeting people.” At first they have a little misery competition over who’s worse at making friends, but as they discuss why they can’t be friends with each other (spoiler: water), they discover that they’re both fans of the same superhero book series, in which a half-dozen mutated doughnuts (the Glo-Nuts) pool their unique abilities to save the world. There’s enough wackadoo humor here to make the upbeat, slightly hamfisted story go down without a hiccup, especially when Shark and Bot take on a squad of territorial playground kids. Among their rejected strategies are “fight” and “ask nicely”—they finally settle on challenging the bullies to a dance battle. Fun side pieces are sprinkled throughout, such as the Glo-Nuts’ origin story and an eight-page comic book adventure, instructions for doing Shark and Bot’s winning dance, and graphs and lists that give readers practice with various ways to present information. Color art that is a little clumsy in spots is easy to decipher, accessible, and energetic. Though most characters are nonhuman, a few people appear (Bot remembers playing video games with a brown-skinned girl; one of the bullies includes a white boy).
VERDICT Shove Shark and Bot into the bottomless pit that is the elementary schooler’s appetite for funny graphic novel chapter books.

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