Monday, April 30, 2018

Science Comics: Sharks: Nature's Perfect Hunter

I have read every volume of Science Comics to date, and I am glad to report that this volume Sharks: Nature's Perfect Hunter is an excellent addition to a very strong and informative series. In fact, the biggest quibble I have is with the title. I want the subtitle to be Nature's Perfect Hunters (for agreement's sake!), but hey, I am not in book marketing, so what do I know?

That petty grammar business aside, I can say that I learned a lot about sharks from this book. Many, if not all of us, are fascinated and captivated by sharks. There is so much about them that is interesting, which has fired up works as diverse as Shark Week, Jaws, and Sharknado. Visually, they are simultaneously frightening and fascinating, but there is much about them that we are either ignorant or misinformed about. This book's premise is to inform the general public about these creatures, and boy does it. Sharks are some of the oldest living animals on earth; they are some of the most unchanged from prehistoric times, and they are incredibly diverse in terms of specific species and families. And there are many factors that have contributed to them being over-hunted and killed in recent years. I am not going to say that they are all gentle or nice creatures, but they are the victims of some mis-characterization.
Perhaps most impressive about this book was how it was basically structured as one long essay without a narrator (although there is a farming sequence and a recurring character that resembles Maris Wicks). It packs in myriad amounts of information in a way that reads logically and flows very well. This text coupled with artwork that is clear, vibrant, and appropriately well-detailed makes this book a must-have for any upper elementary or middle school classroom library.

The reviews I have read about this book have been largely positive. Kirkus Reviews found faults with digressions, conflicting information, and racial representations, and summed up by calling the book "informative, exciting, and, unlike sharks, just a bit disappointing." Jody Kopple called it "an accessible and inviting work" in a starred review from the School Library Journal. Johanna Draper Carlson wrote that "the entire book is something to sink into, enjoying the images of these sleek beasts."

Sharks: Nature's Perfect Hunter was published by First Second, and they provide a preview and much more here.

A preview copy was provided by the publisher.

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