Great white shark by Claire Saxby and Cindy Lane

cover image

A new book in the wonderful Nature Storybooks series from Walker Books will always create excitement amongst younger readers. They will know from reading Kookaburra or Dingo or Koala or Big red kangaroo that they are in for a treat: not only is there an exciting story, but a non fiction text accompanies it. The dual texts are drawn together with superb illustrations sure to please every set of eyes opening the pages. And every word is true.

The great white swims menacingly across the front cover then opening the book,  the end paper reveals the animal looking at the reader with a threatening pair of eyes and lots of teeth. Kids will love it and turn the page over to read the rest of the book. What an opening to this most informative of texts and revealing of images!

The shark has seven pups in her belly and must feed. Trawling the ocean with her acute sense of smell and a sixth sense called electroreception, she finds a pod of seals. A pup has strayed from the group and is an easy target. She grabs it. She swims on, eating something that is not food she spits it out, but finding a turtle grabs it with her serrated teeth and swallows it down, later expelling the bits she cannot digest. She gives birth to her pups then swims away.

All through the story, brief non fiction paragraphs are added to augment the readers’ knowledge of this animal. These complement the story, as we follow the shark as she finds food then a place to give birth. We learn about its size and weight, its teeth and senses, its habits and way of eating, swallowing things whole, then expelling what is not wanted, turning their stomachs almost inside out to get rid of shells and bone.

The magnificent illustrations sing in her debut children’s book, as artist Cindy Lane captures the sights of the ocean from the vast expanses of water, to the reefs close to the coast to the groups of animals to the death of a turtle in a sea of bubble, to the cold of the deep. I loved looking out for various living creatures in the ocean, and thought about her use of sea water and found objects, while marvelling at her use  of pencil and water colour, along with digital collage. This beautiful book, full of interest and information has a page devoted to more information at the end of the book, above a useful index. All adds to its use and purpose, making it the first point of call for those wanting to know about this animal and its habits. Teacher's notes are available.

Themes: Sharks, Ocean, Environment, Predation, Survival.

Fran Knight