Surprising Sharks with Audio: Read, Listen, & Wonder Reviews

UPDATE TIME: 2018-11-13 
Review Score: 5 out of 5 star From 5 user ratings

"Such a fun non-fiction book! A lot of kids love sharks, I did when I was younger! A lot of people see sharks as ruthless monsters and due to this, shark populations have been dramatically decreasing. This book is a good way to teach students or anyone really, all about sharks, what they do, where they live, what they eat, how they eat it and who they are. The illustrations do not portray the sharks as the monsters so many see them as and it is very refreshing. I would use this book in a marine life unit with students. Nonfiction. 2003." said.

"This is a really cute and informational book on sharks that kids can read to themselves or have read to them by a teacher. There are interesting facts written in smaller font throughout the pages so the reader can choose if he or she wants to read all of the facts. It's also very funny and the sharks are all drawn as cartoons. In my field placement I read this to a student, mostly focusing on the facts which are a little harder, as he read the general plot to me. It is definitely a good book to read in class and focuses on science and animals, which are not always discussed. " said.

"I bought this book for my son at the Oregon Coat Aquarium because he LOVES sharks. I like how this book teaches about different kind of sharks, in that aspect its educational, I also like learning about the anatomy of the sharks. What I don't like is they turn this book into something political. The writer mentions how sharks are being used for all sorts of things such as, cattle feed, fertilizer, skin cream, fish and chips, after shave, machine grease and many others. My son is little, he just wants to learn about sharks not the political BS. The parts of the book that didn't include this were good though, and the illustrations were vibrant. " said.

Grades K-4


Shark variety/diversity

The illustrations are created with acrylic and pastel.

Personal response:
The book is great to teach children about the variety of sharks in the water. It provides brief facts about all the different sharks mentioned in the book. It is illustrated in a cute and fun manner which makes it entertaining for children. It reads like a regular picture book instead of a non-fiction book crammed full of information.

Curricular or programming connections:
This book would be good for a science lesson about sharks.
" said.

"Published by the same company as Sea Horse by Christine Butterworth, Surprising Sharks has several similarities but some differences as well. Like Sea Horse, Surprising Sharks uses two sizes of text to denote the main story line which can be used for read-alouds and the sidenotes which provide additional material for information seekers. Both titles include simple indexes, but where Sea Horse focused on just one of the many sea horse species, Surprising Sharks covers many different species of sharks. The two titles also have different illustrators with James Croft producing illustrations in acrylic and pastel for Surprising Sharks. Croft's brightly colored illustrations bring out the variety of colorings that sharks display and match the humor in Davies' text. Sharks are a grade school favorite and Surprising Sharks is an excellent addition to shark subject materials.

Previously read 6/2/08.
Used as a read-aloud for the Tons of Fun - Under the Sea program September 09. This went over well with the 2nd and 3rd graders although I didn't read aloud of the details that were printed in smaller font - just a few every now and then as the spirit moved me.
" said.

"Surprising Sharks challenges popular assumptions about sharks while illuminating the ways in which sharks are different, as well as how they are the same. The text briefly introduces the reader to a variety of sharks, such as a goblin shark or an angel shark, with an index to ease locating relevant text. Font size varies, with larger fonts carrying main concepts and smaller fonts full of more detailed facts. Two spreads of shark diagrams break up the rest of the text, with important and well displayed diagrams on the basic anatomy of a shark. Humans frame the shark text well, tying the end and the introduction with a takeaway message. However, it is unfortunate that the humans depicted as endangering sharks, or shown at all, are overwhelming white males. Nevertheless, the illustrations are colorful and appealing, done in acrylic paint and chalk pastels. While a young shark connoisseur may prefer less simplified illustrations or even photographs, these illustrations serve as a good introduction to sharks to a young audience. With a lack of stated bibliographic sources or acknowledgements citing experts, the zoologist-written text overall is a good introduction to the concept of varying sharks, but not an in-depth resource. This book is recommended to children ages six through eight. (Three and a half stars)" said.

"The title of this book is "Surprising Sharks" by Nicola Davies and illustrated by James Croft. Previously a zoologist, Davies knows all there is about animals. According to the "about the author" page, Nicola Davies has spent time diving with sharks, getting to know them personally.

This book is all about sharks. Throughout the book, the reader is introduced to a the physical features of sharks, different types of sharks, where sharks live and things they like to eat. The illustrations are meant to help give visuals to the text as they help to define confusing text or language. The main message of this book is to convince the reader that sharks are not killing machines. Davies compares sharks to nonthreatening household items (tools, carpet and chocolate)to help repair the negative image of sharks. "Oh yes, it is true- some sharks do kill people, about six of us every year. But every year people kill 100 million sharks." (Davies, p. 24) The author wants the reader to save and protect these beautiful sea creatures.

Personally, I enjoyed this text. I think Davies is truly passionate about animals and it is evident throughout her writing. What I liked most about this book was the fact that writes a factually accurate book without simply listing facts and figures. Instead Davies does an excellent job intertwining facts with a fun narrative. I highly recommend this book.
" said.

"It is commonly stated that boys like nonfiction. They love trivia such as what appears in the annual editions of the Guinness Book of Records and Uncle John's Bathroom Reader. They will study sports stats and videogame manuals. And if it's the right topic, they will read a book cover to cover on a single subject. Dinosaurs, monster trucks, animal feces...almost irresistible. Same for sharks. But the typical shark book entices readers with an open-mouthed Great White on the cover or, at the very least, in a prominently displayed glossy spread. Sharks are ferocious, savage, purveyors of blood and guts.

Thankfully, there is Surprising Sharks to defuse the Peter Benchley/Steven Spielberg-spawned sensationalism. There isn't a drop of blood to be found on the pages. Instead, James Croft's colorful illustrations portray a Great White about to feast on a swirl of water and Basking Shark set to make a meal of plankton.

Humph. A boy might just return the book to the shelf and check out a book on hamsters instead. (They eat their young, don't they?) But wait! Nicola Davies hooks readers from the outset, playing off the classic Jaws scenario of danger lurking below the submerged feet of a swimmer. She refers to a "giant man-eating killer". "SHAAAAARRRKK!" Upon turning the page, the reader sees a swimmer with a mask coming face to face with the not-so-dreaded Dwarf Lantern Shark, described as "just bigger than a chocolate bar". It's the perfect way to reel in the reader.

Davies shares facts about a range of sharks and dispels the notion that these creatures are relentless human predators. While six humans per year are killed by sharks, people slaughter 100,000,000 sharks over the same span.

The trivia will fascinate readers, apt to absorb more information from repeated readings. Moreover the pages are bookended with double-spread drawings of different sharks drawn to scale. The illustrations, the humor, the facts to debunk sharks' bum rap and the info-bites that will interest both younger and older readers make Surprising Sharks the perfect information book.

For more of my reviews on books for boys, check out my Boyz Read blog at
" said.

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