Mark and Shark: Detectiving and Stuff

Close friends Mark (a boy) and Shark (a shark) have set up a new business. Their areas of expertise: detectiving and stuff.  While Mark enthusiastically awaits his first client, an angry polar bear darkens their doorstep, requesting help with… stuff.  Join this human/predatory-fish duo as they encounter feuding ice-cream van owners, feral toasters and a gangster washing machine called Jimmy the Fridge.

Written by John Dougherty and illustrated by Katie Abey, Mark and Shark is silly, lovable and laugh-out-loud funny. It reaches alarmingly high levels of weirdness and yet somehow manages to work. The quality of writing and the plot are sufficiently strong that you accept without question a world where sharks wear tutus and household appliances walk and talk. Katie Abey’s illustrations throughout the book are just wonderful. They match the action and humour perfectly.  The use of specific fonts for certain words is very effective, livening up the text visually and fitting the quirky feel of the book.

While the human characters are overshadowed by the non-human ones, it is lovely to see a book with a lovable shark as a central character. All too often it is the cutest endangered animals that get all of the attention, so anything that encourages an interest in not-so-cute members of the animal kingdom gets two thumbs up from me.

While silliness does not appeal to all adults, this story should hold the attention of even reluctant readers.