Cover image for The Shark God
The Shark God
Martin, Rafe, 1946-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Arthur A. Levine Books, 2001.
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 29 cm
Because they freed a shark caught in a net, the fearsome Shark God rescues a brother and sister from the cruel king's imprisonment and helps them find a new, peaceful kingdom across the sea.
Reading Level:
AD 370 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 3.5 0.5 54450.

Reading Counts RC K-2 2.9 2 Quiz: 26491 Guided reading level: M.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PZ8.1.M3725 SH 2001 Juvenile Non-Fiction Childrens Area
PZ8.1.M3725 SH 2001 Juvenile Non-Fiction Fairy Tales

On Order



Rafe Martin and David Shannon reunite in this folktale interpretation of a dramatic flood myth set amidst the unmatched beauty of the Hawaiian Islands.

In a country whose ruler is cruel and whose people are hardened, two children remain warm-hearted and exuberant. One day after freeing a shark trapped in the shallows, the children are so excited that they touch the King's forbidden drum. They are thrown into prison, and no one will listen to their parents' pleas for mercy. So, at great risk, they go to the Shark God himself, and he takes retribution, causing a great flood that leaves only the good family behind, and clears the way for a better, kinder future.

Author Notes

RAFE MARTIN is the bestselling author of several acclaimed picture books, including The Rough-Face Girl and Will's Mammoth. When not touring the country as a storyteller, he lives in Rochester, New York.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Ages 4-8. The winning partnership that created The Rough-Face Girl (1992) reunites with this dramatic, beautifully illustrated adaptation of an ancient Hawaiian legend. After rescuing a shark near their tropical island--no thanks to their hard-hearted neighbors--a jubilant sister and brother can't resist playing the king's drum--a strictly taboo act, punishable by death. The pitiless king is unrelenting in his sentence, and the children's parents seek solace from the wise but wrathful Shark God, who destroys the island's population with a flood reminiscent of Noah's story, saving only the children and their parents and sending them off to a new life on another island with a kinder king. In text and images, the story creates a potent sense of atmosphere, power, and suspense. Children will feel the roaring Shark God's murky lair, see his "strong, sharp, white teeth," and sense his ferocious omnipotence, impressively portrayed in vibrant paintings reminiscent of Gaugin and perfectly composed for large groups. In a concluding note, the author describes how he toned down the original for a young audience. Even with his alterations, this powerful tale will rivet children ready for a little terror and some heavy but well-handled morality. Great cover, too. --Gillian Engberg

Publisher's Weekly Review

This adaptation of an old Hawaiian tale about a family saved by the Shark God in return for cutting a shark free from a net has highly detailed and kinetic illustrations and suitable "myth-like prose which gives the story appropriate grandeur," wrote PW. Ages 4-8. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 1-4-Combining threads from a Hawaiian legend and his own creative imagination, Martin has woven a tale of two kindhearted children who aid a shark in distress and, later, are condemned to die after running afoul of their inflexible king. Shannon's vigorous illustrations provide a dramatic backdrop for this well-told tale of cruelty and compassion as the merciless king faces the implacable justice of the Shark God. The author provides a source note explaining his reasons for the changes in this retelling and mentioning the illustrator's research on Oahu. From the vivid cover depicting the Shark God assuming a gigantic human form to the laughing sound of the royal drum as the liberated family sails off to a new home, this is a winning package.-Patricia Manning, formerly at Eastchester Public Library, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.