Other creators involved in the making of this graphic novel include: Lettering by Jimmy Gownley
This graphic novel was inspired by The Sea Fairies, L. Frank Baum’s “underwater Wizard of Oz.” It weaves Vietnamese mythology, fantastical ocean creatures, and a deep-sea setting.
To Trot, life has always been about riding the waves and taking care of her grandfather. When Trot’s grandfather reappears after disappearing, Trot’s mother loses her temper and grounds them both. Deciding that being grounded and having her surfing taken away is completely unfair, Trot and Cap’n Bill escape to go ride the waves. However, it only takes one giant wave for every thing to go wrong. Suddenly, Trot and Cap’n Bill get sucked down into a magical kingdom where an ancient sea-battle rages on. With the Sirens and the Snakes at war, how will they ever get back home now?
Sea Sirens follows our two main characters, Trot and Cap’n Bill. Both of them love surfing, but when they get caught up in the delight of surfing, things seem to start falling apart. Trot’s grandfather has dementia and when he suddenly goes missing, a chain of events throw our main characters in a whirlwind of trouble.
I really liked this graphic novel! I don’t want to say ‘loved’ because few patrons of any age will be familiar with Trot from Oz and so there can be no guaranteed readership based on this connection alone. However, the opening dedication clues readers in that Trot was originally a character created by L. Frank Baum in the Land of Oz. Without familiarity with this character, it was good to have a full introduction to her personality through the first few scenes. So most readers will pick this up because it’s a very simplistic or easy read or due to the fact that this graphic novel is so diverse.
This graphic novel drew my attention because it features a Vietnamese-American girl, an animal companion who likes surfing and has one-eye, a surfer-protagonist, a single mother family dynamic (my heart!) and magical elements. To top it off, the California beach setting and underwater adventures are perfect for a summer read. Not to mention, we also get dementia representation that we don’t often see talked about in books, let alone graphic novels.
Now into the good stuff! The biggest thing for me reading this book was the family dynamic. As a reader, I love books that have diverse family dynamics or strong family bonds. While this graphic novel does show two single mother household dynamics, this book is very grandfather-granddaughter relationship focused. And I loved this! Being someone who was very close to her great-grandfather, this book hit very close to home. It hit even more when we really see how the dementia takes hold of Trot’s grandfather. It’s definitely a little emotional, it will get readers thinking, and I think anyone who is close to a family member who has dementia will feel touched by this relationship in this book.
The plot for this graphic novel is very straight forward with very little suspense, twists or turns, and our protagonists get out of bad situations with very little, if not none, consequences. Even though these elements have been removed, this graphic novel does deliver on an adventure and some action. We do get some fighting scenes and even a secret rescue mission that nearly leads into war. I definitely would have preferred more complexity to the characters and the entire situation, but overall, I think younger readers will definitely get swept up in the story and the characters, themselves.
And can I take a moment to talk about the illustrations?! For myself, I loved the art style. I loved the color pallet and the use of color tones. However, I will openly admit that this is not going to be an art style for everyone. If you’re someone who likes really bright pops of color in their graphic novels, this graphic novel will be very underwhelming for you. Most of this book does take place underwater and there is a realistic side to the dark and bright parts, but it definitely could have used more elements to make it feel like the characters were underwater.
Aside from all of this, I think the two messages near the end are really great messages to pass on to younger readers. The first one is really obvious; Recycle, Reuse. However, the second message is something we could all learn from and it’s such a universal message; many of our differences can be resolved if we quit seeing everyone who is not like us as the enemy. I think both of these message will have a positive influence on our younger readers who pick this book up.
Overall, this was a diverse, fun, quick read. I definitely think this is going to be a graphic novel a lot of younger readers will enjoy. As someone who’s an avid reader of graphic novels and comics, if was very simplistic without a lot of action or suspense. The ending does leave things open enough for a second book so if you did enjoy this book then keep your eyes peeled.