Saturday, April 14, 2018

Spring Reading 2018 Sharks: Nature's Perfect Hunter (Science Comics)


One of the most often visited sections in an elementary school library is that which holds the books on sharks. Young readers are fascinated with these sea creatures in all their various forms. So I can easily predict that the latest Science Comics title will see high circulation rates and probably need replacement quite quickly.

The book begins with an introduction by marine conservation biologist, Dr. David Shiffman. He tells of his own fascination with sharks and his appreciation for the book and its contents. The book itself is filled with diagrams and images of the different species of sharks. One scene which will make adults grin in recognition shows a man tossing chum and a shark rising out of the water just as it happened in the movie "Jaws." Other pages show a series of creatures from various time periods all declining to swim in the ocean because there are sharks in there.

There are incredible facts such as, you are "more likely to be hospitalized for being struck by lightning...than for getting injured by a shark." The part that sharks play in the complex ocean food webs, the range of their sizes (from fitting in the palm of your hand to whale proportions), and pages showing the various orders of sharks within the Superorder Selachimorpha will satisfy those thirsty for details. 

The images and text work well together to illustrate the amazing range of adaptations sharks have developed since their first ancestors appeared (an estimated 400 million years ago). With over 500 species, there are many opportunities for variation. Some species have phosphorescence. Thresher sharks use their tails as whips to stun their prey. Some species like the mako are even warm-blooded. One ability that will captivate readers who enjoy the gross and gruesome shows a shark turning its stomach inside out to expel what it cannot digest.

Folk lore and pop culture are also included. The Hawaiian legends of shapechanging shark gods, movies such as "Jaws," and the popularity of shark fin soup are all covered. Historic events like the early twentieth century shark attacks (covered in one of the I Survived books by Lauren Tarshis), as well as the more recent survivor story of Bethany Hamilton are also discussed.

Back matter includes a large spread showing the shark family tree, a glossary, and suggested phrases to use instead of the vilifying "shark attack." At the bottom of the glossary pages are illustrations of various shark egg cases (a.k.a. mermaid's purses).

Highly recommended for elementary and middle grade readers who enjoy nonfiction and books about animals.

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

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