Friday, August 12, 2016

Summer Reading 2016 Smart About Sharks


Owen Davey has created a beautiful book about sharks. My female students love animal books as much as the males do, but they are not always happy with the aesthetic appearance of nonfiction books. I think Smart About Sharks will not have that problem, especially with pink as the background color for the cover. The table of contents is located within a sea of grayish-blue full of sea weed and sharks. There is a large 2-page spread showing the relative size of each species that is awesome in its ability to convey the wide range of possibilities. And another page showing a comparison of a Dwarf lanternshark to a standard #2 pencil is genius. Every school child knows what size a pencil is, so this is an easy way for them to see that not all sharks are the size of the great white in "Jaws." 

A wide selection of sharks of different sizes and abilities are included. Commonly known species like the whale shark and nurse shark are seen, along with those of lesser notoriety such as lemon sharks or wobbegongs. The illustrations are crisp and clean without being cold or mechanical. They have a retro vibe to them that makes the book feel like an instant classic. And the section on shark mythology shows how widespread the attention to these creatures is and how long humans have been fascinated by them.

The facts are presented in bite-size chunks. (Did you see what I did there?) Several different types of charts and diagrams are used to present facts such as the adaptations that make sharks such effective predators, or the comparative number of pups produced by two different species of sharks. There are catchy headings for each section. Young readers may not catch the allusions to famous phrases ("All Fins Considered" - "All Things Considered," or "Eat, Prey, Hunt" - "Eat, Pray, Love") but adults who will be reading along with many of those youngsters will appreciate the humor.

This is an excellent addition to any library collection, especially those serving an elementary or middle school audience. While the text is not overly technical, it also does not talk down to young readers. The author seems to understand that those who are fascinated with a subject will usually have the patience to work out what the text says so that they may satisfy their curiosity.

I received a copy from the publisher for review purposes.

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