July 17th, 2017

Shark Dog! by Ged Adamson

My fourth picture book, Shark Dog! has just been published by Harper Collins. It's been a fun project to work on and it's exciting to see it finally released. The story centres around a strange animal - half shark, half dog - and his adventures in the world of humans. At first, he simply can't contain his excitement. All these wonderful new possibilities - so different from everything he knows! But, eventually, he misses his fellow shark dogs and pines for his island home.

I wanted this book to have a certain look. I thought it would be nice to give a sense of old school exploring and adventurers – people like Jaques Cousteau and Edmund Hillary. A kind of 50s/60s/70s feel to everything. The cover really reflects that I think. I love italicised lettering so this had to be the choice for the title (and in sharky red of course). All this makes me think of old movie posters and Tintin books.

Here’s a thing I’ve noticed since the book came out – everyone thinks this character is a girl:

He’s a boy! This has happened because
a. He has long hair
b. He narrates the story and never says “I’m a boy!”
c. er…he has long hair

I’m really not annoyed by this and actually find it interesting. It doesn’t affect the story at all and I kind of like the idea that readers are deciding what they want him to be. I wonder if this has happened to other author’s characters? Actually, from now on I’m going to pretend this was all intentional.

Shark Dog never speaks, he just makes a strange noise that only other shark dogs will understand. Usually when he’s excited. There’s something nice about having a main character that doesn’t have dialogue – you’re forced to think of things for them to do on a purely visual level. Every Shark Dog scene has to really show his personality, whether that’s a comedy thing or an emotional reaction. So you can’t be subtle with this!

As well as the strange creature aspect and the shark/underwater elements, I wanted to have fun with the doggy side of Shark Dog. He’s a very friendly animal and gets this from his canine attributes. On first sight, people are kind of wary of him because of the shark elements but his friendly doggy-ness soon wins everyone over. The first thing that happens when father son and Shark Dog visit the beach is mayhem and panic – people think there’s a shark in the water – but soon Shark Dog is at the centre of fun and frolics.

My main hope with this book is that readers laugh at least once and come away wanting a Shark Dog of their own!

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by Ged Adamson


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