In Shark Princess: Shark Party! by Nidhi Chanani, Kitana and Mack return for a shark shindig! The second book in the Shark Princess series for young readers will be published on May 2nd, 2023.
To celebrate the newest release in the Shark Princess series, The Beat caught up with Chanani over email to learn more about the genesis of the series, ask about aquariums, and learn which sharks present the greatest artistic challenge!
AVERY KAPLAN: While it’s alluded to by the dedication for Shark Princess, can you share the genesis of this story with our readers?
NIDHI CHANANI: Of course! For my daughter’s fourth birthday party, I decided to draw on plain paper bags that we had for goody bags. Around the 20th bag, I ran out of ideas and I turned to her and asked what I should draw. She said “A shark princess” and I quickly drew a shark with a crown. As I finished the bags I thought to myself… that’s a great concept! Has it been done before? Turns out it hadn’t and so I began writing the series shortly after! All thanks to her.
KAPLAN: What goes into drawing an adorable shark?
CHANANI: Haha! Well, years of practice helps! I spent a large amount of time watching shark documentaries to study their body movement and understand how to simplify their shapes and fins. So a lot of practice and watching lots of shark videos!
KAPLAN: Both Shark Princess and Shark Princess: Shark Party! feature boatloads of wordplay. Did you have a particular pun that was you were especially excited to include?
CHANANI: Fintastic is definitely one! I wanted to include gil-stopper like heart-stopper but I think it isn’t right for the age group – but I still love it.
KAPLAN: What do you hope young readers take away from the adventures of Kitana the whale shark and and Mack the mako shark?
CHANANI: The message of accepting your friend and helping them accept themself is the heart of the series. And that princesses (and sharks) aren’t one fixed thing but can be adventurers, dangerous, introverted… all the things! Complex and lovable.
KAPLAN: Are you a fan of aquariums? Do you have a favorite that you’ve visited?
CHANANI: I love the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Truly, I’m a fan of the ocean. It’s my happy place. I visit aquariums with my family and we try to snorkel in the ocean a few times a year. I’m constantly wowed by how beautiful, vast and different the world is when you dip your head below the surface of the water. It’s magic.
KAPLAN: Both Shark Princess and Shark Princess: Shark Party! feature back matter that includes facts about sharks. What was the process of researching this information like? Did you have a particular shark fact you were most surprised to learn?
CHANANI: I love that a group of sharks is called a shiver. I also loved learning about sharks thriving in underwater volcanoes. How some can lose 35,000 teeth during their lifetime! That many have to stay in motion to stay alive. And that whale sharks have unique spot patterns like fingerprints. There are more, but those are some of my favorite facts!
KAPLAN: Were there any particular comics, books, movies, music, or any other kind of media that was especially inspiring to you while working on the Shark Princess books?
CHANANI: Absolutely! I watched so many National Geographic documentaries on sharks, whales and the ocean. There’s a whale documentary narrated by Sigourney Weaver that I particularly loved.
KAPLAN: Shark Princess: Shark Party! lives up to its name, including multiple two-page spreads that each feature a wide variety of species of shark! Did you have a favorite to draw? Did any provide a particular challenge?
CHANANI: I love drawing Kitana and Mack, of course! I also enjoyed drawing tiger sharks and carpet sharks. I find hammerheads the most challenging especially when I have to draw them turning or in profile.
KAPLAN: Can you give us a hint about what the future holds for Kitana and Mack?
CHANANI: More adventures! In each book I want to delve further into their characters and take them out of their comfortable currents into new and exciting waves. In the third book I take them a bit out of the water! It releases in early 2024 so the wait won’t be too long to see their next adventure.
Shark Princess: Shark Party! will be available at your local bookstore and/or public library beginning May 2nd, 2023.