Books for Babes provides info on the sort of comics that can be enjoyed by children and adults alike. This week we’re recommending the beautiful new graphic novel from Katie O’Neill, ‘Aquicorn Cove’, out now from Oni Press.
by Stefania Rudd. “We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch it, we are going back from whence we came.”– President John F. Kennedy
In the latest graphic novel from Katie O’Neill the concept of the sea being our provider runs deep. As deep as those waters next to the small seaside village that serves as the main location for this story. Aquicorn Cove takes grief, combines it with environmentalism, and weaves together a beautiful story that is both moving and inspiring.
Aquicorn Cove introduces us to Lana, a tween who lives with her father in a city far from the small village where her mother and her family originally hail. Due to a huge storm, Lana and her father return home to help their aunt/sister-in-law, Mae, clean up the damage. It’s here where we learn that Lana’s mother, Melody, died from an boating accident and was once the glue that held her family together. Today, Mae is a fisherwoman, like her mother and her mother before her, who now takes on the responsibility of teaching the ways of the sea to Lana.
Lana feels incredibly connected to the sea, in part because it reminds her of her mother, and because it feels like her true home. One day, as she reminisces over a rock pool, Lana notices a baby seahorse in poor health, and takes the creature home in the hopes of restoring it back to health. A few days pass and Lana encounters a larger version of this seahorse-like creature, which appears from the waves and gives her a shell necklace. And when she shows the necklace to her aunt, Mae drops to her knees and says it belongs to her. This is where the magic of Aquicorn Cove begins to reveal itself, as Mae tells the story of Aure, the Aquicorns, their undersea colony, how her relationship with them came to be—and the state it is in now.
O’Neill crafts a compelling story of how our actions and choices can make a profound impact on the environment in which we live. How little things add up to create big problems over time, how it is our responsibility to do our best to solve these issues and preserve what we can. How greed and selfishness are easier outs than we realize, causing more harm to the ecosystems we rely upon. O’Neill does a wonderful job emphasizing these concepts with her story, but she also makes room for forgiveness, redemption, and change for each of her characters.
Her artwork has a very soft, soothing quality with its blended color palette of warm and cool colors. Aquacorn Cove is, as a result, both dreamy and ethereal, with darker colors toned down to not contrast so harshly. O’Neill has a distinctive style, but there are recognizable influences that should make this book seem familiar to young readers while remaining entirely unique.
Aquicorn Cove is an honest and heartfelt story that approaches the real threat we humans pose to the oceans—specifically the coral reefs that are being permanently destroyed due to pollution, overfishing, and rising water temperatures. The story gives us hope that even though you and I are but one, together we can be proper stewards of the waters (and the Earth in general) by the choices we make in our daily lives, and speaking up (with our voices and our dollars) when we can to help protect this vital component of the planet. An important message, and a lovely tale, for all ages.
Written and illustrated by Katie O’Neill.
Lettered by Crank!
Designed by Hilary Thompson.
Edited by Ari Yarwood.
This book contains death of a parent and depression.
Age range: 7 and up