"XOC (pronounced "shock") is an ancient Mayan word for demon fish (though there are other translations) and likely the origin of the English word shark. The story behind how it entered the English language is rather interesting. Capt. John Hawkins was said to have brought a carcass of a beast that killed some of his crew while they were pirating off the coast of Mexico. He heard some of the local people call it "xoc" and he apparently brought that term back to the Old World with him. The specimen was exhibited in London in 1569...according to Languagehat.com, a broadsheet post about the fish read:
"There is no proper name for it that I knowe but that sertayne men of Captayne Haukinses doth call it a sharke. And it is to bee seene in London, at the Red Lyon, in Fletestreete."
This alone hooked me in terms of the book's value. This one page peeked my interest in pirates (and their indirect influence on our modern culture), Captain John Hawkins, Old English, and the origin of "shark." But, read on my friends, because this gem of a graphic novel goes even further.
Xoc is about nature, conservation, and the story of a female great white shark's voyage to give birth to her pup as told through a combination of 3rd-person narrative and dialogue between seals (about to be hunted), a sea turtle, and Xoc. But this book is more than that:
- It is an outstanding resource of vocabulary (with words such as ferocious, piques, impending, denizens, turbulent, bravado, venture, euphoria, lieage, deftly, satiated, intrigued, exuberance, and silhouettes- for example).
- Dembicki uses alliteration ("this pack of predators...the broadtooth behemoth...the pennipeds (seals) panic...a cold current hints at impeding change... ), personification ("the blue titan basks in the warm sun...") and other literary devices to capture our minds and imaginations.
- It is a tremendous resource when learning about :
- sharks and their prey
- shark migration and the spawning female
- the underwater perils sharks face (orcas, starvation, exhaustion, storms disorienting sea creatures, parasites, pollution and debris of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch)
- how the sun and Earth's magnetic field help the shark navigate and keep her course
- life at the bottom, light-less depths of the ocean off the continental shelf
- how dolphins and hammerhead shark feed and their relation to the great white
While there is an ending to Xoc's story (which I don't want to spoil), Dembicki provides the reader with other additional resources:
- Author's note - providing additional information about the "Great pacific Garbage Patch" and pollution's effect on the ocean and its inhabitants;
- "Did You Know?" with fascinating facts to whet anyone's appetite for more;
- More information on sharks and conservation links; and a
- Bibliography worth further exploration
For more information about the book and to read a short story about Xoc's pup, readers should visit http://xocing.blogspot.com/
For more information about XOC and great white sharks visit:
- http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/fish/great-white-shark/ - for information and video links
- http://marinebio.org/species.asp?id=38#.UM5Yuba1kaA- for information, maps, video links and additional resources
- http://www.enchantedlearning.com/subjects/sharks/species/Greatwhite.shtml - for great information (but non-interactive)
- http://greatpacificgarbagepatch.info/ for information and additional links
- http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/earth/oceanography/great-pacific-garbage-patch.htm - information and additional links
- http://marinedebris.noaa.gov/info/patch.html - for additional links, questions and answers, and locations of numerous 'garbage patches"
- http://education.nationalgeographic.com/education/encyclopedia/great-pacific-garbage-patch/?ar_a=1- for information, additional links and videos
I thank you for your visit and wish all of you a wonderful 2013 - may it bring you and your families joy, peace, good health and success. I look forward to you comments now and future visits.