Great Illustrated Books

Surprising Sharks

By Nicola Davies, Illustrated by James Croft

Candlewick, 2003
Pages : 32
Suggested Ages: 4-7
ISBN: 9780763621858

Learn about sharks and their way of life, thanks to a punchy text, easily accessible to all, water-logged acrylic and pastel illustrations, and cool facts—"Sand tiger sharks give birth to just two live young— which is all that's left after those two have eaten the other six babies in their mother's belly." (OK, it's not really the mother's belly, but a 28-page picture book for young kids doesn't need to get into a shark sex ed discussion.) There's the dwarf lantern shark, which is "just bigger than a chocolate bar," and black lantern sharks and swell sharks and cookie-cutter sharks, all of which will make readers fall madly in love with sharks (especially when they discover that only 3 types of sharks, out of 500 actually attack humans), even though they'll shiver over the sharp-toothed shark on the cover. The ending is clever and sobering: "Every year, people kill 100 million sharks. If you were a shark swimming in the lovely blue sea, the last word you'd want to hear would be . . . human!"

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If you love this book, then try:

Cerullo, Mary. Sharks: Challengers of the Deep. Dutton, 1993.

Cerullo, Mary M. The Truth About Great White Sharks. Chronicle, 2000.

Maestro, Betsy. A Sea Full of Sharks. Scholastic, 1990.

Mahy, Margaret. The Great White Man-Eating Shark. Dial, 1990..

O'Brien, Patrick. Megatooth. Henry Holt, 2001.

Pringle, Laurence. Sharks! Strange and Wonderful. Boyds Mills, 2001.

Wardlaw, Lee. Punia and the King of Sharks: A Hawaiian Folktale. Dial, 1997.

Critics have said

This playful text, complemented nicely by James Croft's bright illustrations, shows how sharks breathe, hunt and have babies.
Childrens Literature
She crafts a true storyline-what makes sharks sharks?-and carries it through to the end. Croft's lavish acrylics add vibrant color, personable fish, and anatomic detail. Layout and type design enhance the illustrations; the package can't be beat. Surprising, indeed.