Reading/Interest Level: Toddler, Preschool, Primary
Author: Ame Dyckman
Illustrator: Scott Magoon
Publisher: Orchard Books
Are all sharks really just cold blooded killers? Bob the jellyfish reporter has an exclusive interview with one shark to hear his story. While on the show, the shark’s exploits, including showing a fish his new tooth, reuniting a baby seal pup with its family, and even bringing bandages to people swimming when he smells their blood, keep being misunderstood as more sinister intentions. The jellyfish, squid, and octopus crew members are touched and surprised when they start to see that, at least, this shark is different. However, the shark’s true colors show when, after eating the jellyfish news anchor, who is still alive inside his stomach, he explains that he is just playing hide-and-go-seek with the jellyfish.
Misunderstood Shark is a look into the dichotomy of the fear of sharks. One one had, the jellyfish in the story points out that it is thousands of times more likely to get bitten by another human than a shark. On the other hand, the story ends with a reminder that, in the end, the shark is still a danger to almost anything swimming in the ocean. Told mostly from the point of view of the interviewer, the storyline allows for facts about sharks and playful asides from the film crew. While amusing, the flow of the story is jumpy when it switches between so many points of view. However, the creativity of this form of storytelling can’t be denied. This book is recommended for older children, those who are not particularly sensitive to death, considering the fish does get eaten in the end. However, it could also be a tool for parents looking to help their children understand the life cycle and natural prey and predators.