Shark Teeth

cover of Shark Teeth
Shark Teeth by Sherri Wintson

By Sherri Winston
Bloomsbury, 2024
292 pages

Ages 9-12

Recently back home after a stint in foster care, twelve-year-old Sharkita (Black) lives in fear of again being separated from her precocious sister, Lilli, and developmentally disabled brother, Lamar. While Mama goes out—sometimes for days at a time—Kita cooks dinner, pays the bills, cleans the house, and cares for her younger siblings. Kita’s head swirls with adult worries and complicated emotions: She longs to be loved and cherished by her mother even as she sometimes hates her. She is both her mom’s “ride-or-die” and the target of her abuse; she knows she is a burden to her mother, who can’t even be bothered to fix the hyperdontia that gives Kita two rows of teeth, like a shark. Kita’s only reprieve is dance practice; she’s a baton twirler on the team and loves her coach, assistant principal Miss Kadejah, who takes Kita under her wing. When Kita decides to go out with her friends after a game one night, her mom leaves Lilli and Lamar home alone, and the result is disastrous. Kita blames herself as she and her brother and sister are sent, once again, to separate foster homes—but this time, with the support of her new therapist, her friends, and Miss Kadejah, Kita summons the courage to speak the truth about her family’s crisis in order to give her siblings—and herself—the homes, love, and security they need and deserve. The promise of hopeful futures for these three children comes as a relief after the realistic trauma they endure. ©2024 Cooperative Children’s Book Center