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Sharks! Strange and Wonderful

by Laurence Pringle
Illustrated by Meryl Henderson

Published by Boyds Mills Press, 2001
32 pages
ISBN: 1-56397-863-6

Ages 4 - 8

Sharks have been a much-maligned creature in popular culture over the years but, as Laurence Pringle points out in this reasoned introduction, humans are a much greater threat to sharks than sharks are to humans. Once again, Pringle shows his mastery at meeting young children where they are and then expanding on the knowledge they are already likely to have. "If you drew a shark, you would probably give it a long slender body," he tells us before launching into a cogent comparison of the varying body shapes of four distinctive shark species who have evolved to suit their environments. Meryl Henderson's accompanying realistic watercolor illustrations show sharks in their natural underwater habitats, each species labeled with its name and length. She uses other sharks and ocean creatures to show scale consistently, and includes one painting of a tooth of the now-extinct Megalodon at actual size. In a mere 32 pages, Pringle provides the basics concerning physiology and behavior, always placing them within the context of adaptation and survival. He concludes with a sober note about the ways in which human shark hunting is not only depleting shark populations worldwide, but also upsetting the natural balance of ocean ecology. No matter what attitude about sharks young readers bring to this book, they are likely to come away with a deeper respect for these creatures who have survived for more than four million years. CCBC categories: The Natural World; Issues in Today's World.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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