Everything Is Teeth is an unsettling, autobiographical peek at a childhood obsession: author Evie Wyld’s fixation with sharks, and with a particular shark survivor named Rodney Fox. This is a small girl with a big internal life; pop culture and her imaginings about sharks are more vivid than real life.
Joe Sumner’s art is well matched to the mood of the text. The illustrations are spare, and mostly black and white. The images of books and sharks are vivid by comparison, especially the bright red blood that pops up periodically. And the humans are drawn with big heads and childlike features, which is appropriate for text that reveals an introspective child’s thoughts about grownups. The best lines are about Wyld’s parents, such as: “He hangs on to his jetlag like it’s the last bit of civilization he’ll see in a long while.”
Why sharks? One hard-to-avoid theory is that Wyld’s focus on blood is one sign of her apprehension about menstruation, and womanhood in general. She tells two especially memorable stories of washed-up sharks found and cut open. One contained a litter of shark pups, the other some expensive stiletto heels. Stilettos and offspring are potent symbols of womanhood, of course. Thus, becoming a woman, like facing off with a shark, inspires both fear and fascination. I was also a morbid girl who wasn’t so sure about this femininity business, so this odd book strikes a chord.
NOTE: The link above sends you to the same book, different cover.
Everything Is Teeth
by Evie Wyld (author) and Joe Sumner (illustrator)
2016, 128 pages, 8.1 x 10.3 x 0.7 inches (hardcover)