Santa Jaws (Bridget Heos)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Santa Jaws, written by Bridget Heos and illustrated by Galia Bernstein, a fin-tastic holiday title that combines the Christmas holiday with the awesomeness of sharks.

While kids are preparing for Santa Claus up on dry land, the toothy titans of the deep are excited for their own seasonal visitor: Santa Jaws! Elfin sharks help make toys from shells and coral, cookiecutter sharks are baking up crispy and sweet treats. And on Christmas night, Santa Jaws will board his underwater sled (pulled by hammerheads), check his list, and leave gifts for all the good little shark pups – only taking a nibble of them for himself (to test them out, of course).

Jawesome, festive, fishy fun. For the bookworm who is SUPER into sharks – and we all know at least one kid who is – this is the perfect mix of holiday silliness and marine biology education. While the premise and story are a product of the imagination, the book still introduces eight different real-life species of shark, drawn cartoonishly but with anatomical accuracy; backmatter provides brief information about each one. The artwork is delightful, mixing a natural marine palette of blues, greens, and sandy whites with touches of coral and Christmas cheer. The length is perfect for a storytime, the rhyming text is fun to read aloud, and JJ really enjoyed this one. A great mix of genres that balances learning and entertainment, and we highly recommend it. Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Misunderstood Shark (Ame Dyckman)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Misunderstood Shark, written by Ame Dyckman and illustrated by Scott Magoon, a delightfully silly look at shark facts.

Jellyfish Bob is ready to start his “fun facts” show about sea creatures, not realizing that a shark is stalking up out of the shadows to eat him… or is he? The shark claims that he really just wanted to show off all his teeth (which, as Bob helpfully informs the audience, sharks can lose and grow 30,000 of in their lifetime). So follow a series of “misunderstandings” – the shark wasn’t going to eat that baby seal; he only wanted to return her to her parents (earning the seals’ admiration). Sniffing a bit of blood, the shark swirls into a frenzy… but only to give the terrified humans a BandAid for their scratch. All the while, Bob helpfully spouts off shark facts to his audience and increasingly dubious crew. Perhaps sharks aren’t as dangerous as they seem… but perhaps not.

Silly yet educational fun. Dyckman has done something sneaky and brilliant here, using comedy to introduce a very real aspect of popular opinion on sharks: they are both very dangerous yet also very much not. While it’s true that sharks can be dangerous up close, they pose very little threat overall, and are important parts of their ecosystems. What’s more, we’re still learning much about them, which make Bob’s true fun-facts just as welcome. And while the ending does involve Bob becoming lunch, his survival in Shark’s tummy keeps things from getting too dark. Magoon’s broad characters, with expressive features and toothy grins, are a perfect compliment to the light tone of the story. The length was great, and JJ and I had a lot of fun with this one. A wonderful story that reminds us that sharks are amazing – just not to be trifled with. Baby Bookworm approved!

Shawn Loves Sharks (Curtis Manley)


Hello, friends! Our book today is Shawn Loves Sharks, written by Curtis Manley and illustrated by Tracy Subisak, the tale of a young shark enthusiast learning the importance of friendship.

Shawn loves sharks – not just likes them, LOVES them. He has a shark costume, shark documentaries, and 127 books about sharks. He loves their sleek bodies and rows of sharp teeth, and he loves pretending to be a shark and chasing around the other kids at recess, especially Stacy (she gets the most scared). So when his teacher announces that each student will be a report on a predator chosen at random, he is devastated to receive, not a shark, but a leopard seal. And who does draw the shark? Why it’s Stacy, who smugly points out that Great Whites EAT leopard seals. Shawn begs for a switch but, sensing her opportunity for revenge, Stacy refuses. However, as both kids learn more about their predators, they begin to bond over their mutual enthusiasms – until Shawn says something thoughtless and hurts his new friend’s feelings. Feeling guilty, he concludes that sharks and seals, cool as they are, are not people, and apologizes – after all, a shark and seal would never be friends like he and Stacy are.

Adorable yet poignant. Being a kid who was obsessed with animals myself, I identified with Shawn’s passion, as well as how that obsession can affect others. Indeed, Stacy is essentially bullied by Shawn at first, and it’s a nice to see her take her power back, and even better when Shawn realizes that, unlike his deep sea predators, people have feelings and emotions that need to be respected. Seeing the two on the final pages, bonding over their mutual interests while dressed as their respective predators, is heartwarming. The art is wonderfully playful, yet also deftly captures that childlike wonder we feel when awed by nature. The length is great, and JJ loved the sharks and the many opportunities to “chomp chomp CHOMP” along with Shawn and Stacy. A clever friendship parable that embraces childlike curiosity, and we liked it. Baby Bookworm approved!

Shark Lady: The True Story Of How Eugenie Clark Became The Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist (Jess Keating)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Shark Lady: The True Story Of How Eugenie Clark Became The Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist, written by Jess Keating and illustrated by Marta Álvarez Miguéns, a biography of the pioneering ichthyologist and her dedication to changing the world’s mind about sharks.

When she was a child, there was no place Eugenie would rather be than the aquarium. She spent hours at a time watching the fish swim and learning about their species, habitats, and behaviors. And there was no type of fish that Eugenie loved more than the sharks; while many people saw them as mindless eating machines, Eugenie saw fascinating and intelligent creatures. Eugenie dedicated her life to studying sharks and other marine life, fighting discrimination against her gender and public views of sharks the whole way. Eugenie refused to be scared – of the sharks or the people – and made breakthrough discoveries that have changed what we know about sharks to this day.

This is the second biography we’ve read on Dr. Clark, and we enjoyed this one just as much. While Swimming With Sharks by Heather Lang was a more in-depth biography for older readers, this one is the perfect way to introduce Eugenie and her love of marine biology to younger ones. The text is written in a more story-like narrative, which allows little readers to follow her childhood and early career. The illustrations are wonderful, full of color, joy, determination, and just a hint of fantasy that inspires readers to see the world through Eugenie’s eyes. The length is perfect, JJ loved all the sharks and fishes, and I loved the message: girls can be and do whatever they dream of… they simply have to dive in. Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Swimming With Sharks: The Daring Discoveries Of Eugenie Clark (Heather Lang)

Hello, everyone! Today’s book is Swimming With Sharks: The Daring Discoveries Of Eugenie Clark, written by Heather Lang and illustrated by Jordi Solano, a beautiful and inspiring illustrated biography of pioneer ichthyologist and marine biologist Eugenie Clark.

Young Genie had no greater fascination than sharks. As a child in the 1920’s and 30’s, she spent every moment she could at the aquarium, or in front of her aquariums at home, studying fish, especially the graceful, powerful sharks. Despite there being almost no female ichthyologists at the time, and NONE who studied sharks, Genie would not be deterred. She went to school, studied hard, and braved the ocean to follow her passion. She became one of the world’s foremost researchers in sharks, their biology, and their behavior. She helped to inform people’s opinions on sharks, reshaping their reputation from mindless killing machines to often timid, and sometimes gentle, creatures. And no matter how much she learned, she continued to press her face to the glass, staring at the animals of the deep on the other side, and wonder…

This was a fantastic biography of a groundbreaking female scientist, who defied both convention and popular opinion to become a respected authority on sharks. The story is as much a love letter to these incredible and deeply misunderstood animals as much as it is to Eugenie, which is great for little ones who want to learn more about sharks as well. The art is gorgeous, and capture both the animals and Clark’s love of them well. It’s a bit long for baby bookworms, but older kids would love this one: a powerful and beautiful story of scientific curiosity. Baby Bookworm approved!