“Aquicorn Cove” by Katie O’Neill

Cover of titular bookBook: “Aquicorn Cove” by Katie O’Neill
Published by Oni Press on 16th October, 2018
Genres: Fiction, Graphic novels, Middle grade
Pages: 96 pages
Rating: 5/5⭐
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads

When Lana and her father return to their seaside hometown to help clear the debris of a storm, the last thing she expects is to discover a colony of Aquicorns—magical seahorse-like residents of the coral reef. As she explores the damaged town and the fabled undersea palace, Lana learns that while she cannot always count on adults to be the guardians she needs, she herself is capable of finding the strength to protect both the ocean, and her own happiness.

Never have I ever seen a cute comic book for kids such as this one! Aquicorn Cove is unique, both in its illustrations and story. The art style reminds me of Ponyo and Out of the Blue. Little girl Lana is adorable, from her freckles to her cheery personality.

Themes

In school, I really disliked when my class would finish a book and our teacher made us dissect it for the themes, or lessons, we were supposed to get out of that book. Now, though, I think this is a good thing to think about as a) a fictionist, because it helps find the truth in fiction, and b) an adult who shops for children’s books for younger relatives.

Aquicorn Cove has many themes in it—all of which I love:

  • interracial family
  • coping with loss as a child
  • damage after storms
  • how humans affect ocean life
  • fishing not for game, but for food
  • hearty conversations with family
  • subtle hints at a lesbian relationship*
  • self-esteem & self-confidence

*At least, this is the vibe I got. Another reviewer noted the same thing. It’s so subtle non-suspecting readers probably won’t catch it, in that it’s not highly obvious and could come off as just “bosom friends”, in the words of Anne Shirley.

Overall

The story was brilliant; I think it’s a great book.

The environmental theme isn’t so obvious or intrusive. Humans affect ocean life without regard for how it might affect them in return, and media targeted towards children is often a hit-or-miss in this department. I do think older generations will take issue with this, because the theme before Millennials was to live like there’s no tomorrow; they just didn’t think about this thing. Older relatives of my own get upset and think, “Well, this is just what we’ve always done, and who cares? We’re the dominant species; it’s not our fault,” but it seems the younger generations really care more about the environment…and I like that. I like Aquicorn Cove’s message, because it’s a magical story full of what makes the ocean so beautiful and can teach adults a little something, too—that younger generations are the leaders in change; the childlike perspective is honest and secure, and not something that should be dismissed.

I read in a review that Aunt Mae’s a smoker, but I didn’t catch that that was what she was doing in the story—so while it’s contradictory of the “environmental impact of humans” theme, I don’t think it’d be fair to deduct a star for this. The diversity of Aquicorn Cove also speaks volumes more than I’ve ever seen in a children’s book, and I feel the themes collectively make up for whatever star would be deducted, anyway. I would, hands-down, recommend this book to anyone looking for something like it—no hesitations—so 5/5 stars it is.

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