Graphic Novel Review: The Aquanaut by Dan Santat

The Aquanaut by Dan Santat. Scholastic, 2022. 9780545497619. 256pp.

Five years ago Michel drowned on a research ship, The Miette, but his brother Paul was rescued. Now Paul is raising Michel’s daughter, Sophia, and trying to run the Aqualand theme park, which commercial concerns have turned into a bit of a joke. One day an old deep sea diving suit walks out of the ocean. It’s filled with some kind of fantastic mechanism to make it appear that a human is inside, but at the controls are a number of sea creatures. They have Michel’s lost journal, and they’re hoping to find safe refuge in Aqualand. But when they get there they just find rides and souvenirs and a show featuring one scared orca. Luckily they also meet and befriend Sophia, who helps keep them secret for a while (despite inviting them to be part of her science fair exhibit for some badly needed extra credit).

Santat’s second graphic novel is both moving and extremely silly. My favorite part is probably the heist sequence in the middle, an attempt to set the orca free, but there’s so many moments to love here. If you buy this for your library’s children’s section make sure to put it on a display where adults can find it, too.


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