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Friday, December 09, 2011

Would YOU Survive A Shark Attack?

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Little Elm Hills, New Jersey, isn't where Chet Roscow wants to spend his summer, but he has to admit the place isn't all that bad. The 10-year-old likes living with his kind uncle Jerry, enjoys helping the older man out at the diner, and is especially excited about swimming in the cool, refreshing Matawan Creek with his new friends, Dewey, Sid and Monty. It's a good place, really, for Chet to hang out while his parents chase another one of their crazy, get-rich-quick ideas.

Chet's just starting to feel comfortable in Elm Hills when he hears some shocking news: A shark is attacking people on New Jersey's coast. It's a scary thought, even though Chet lives about 20 miles from the ocean. Uncle Jerry says the stories must be a hoax - sharks don't attack humans. Chet's not so sure. Especially when he spies a triangular fin sticking out of the water in the creek. Nobody believes there could be a shark in Elm Hills. No one but Chet, who's about to go head-to-head with the sharp-toothed beast.

I Survived: The Shark Attacks of 1916 is another installment in Lauren Tarshis' educational, but entertaining series about kids grappling for survival during famous disasters like the sinking of the Titanic, Hurricane Katrina, etc. Based on real events, this book recalls what happened in July of 1916, when a shark (or sharks) killed four people along the shores of New Jersey. One of the attacks really did happen at Matawan Creek, which lies 16 miles inland. While Chet Roscow is a fictional character, he helps readers feel the fear and disbelief that must have come over people when they heard news of these horrifying events. Because it's written for middle graders, the book never gets too graphic - it keeps the action going without worrying too much about character development, gripping dialogue or gory details. Still, the story's engrossing. Middle graders, I'm sure, will find it both interesting and exciting. As did I.

(Readalikes: Other books in the I Survived series by Lauren Tarshis. Also reminded me a tiny bit of Sharks & Boys by Kristen Tracy and Shark Girl by Kelly Bingham.)

Grade: B-

If this were a movie, it would be rated: PG for scary scenes/violence

To the FTC, with love: I received a finished copy of I Survived: The Shark Attacks of 1916 from the generous folks at Scholastic. Thank you!

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