Posted in Uncategorized

Books for Babies!

How’s everyone doing? We all good? Healthy? Safe? I hope so. I’m back with another roundup of books you can read to your babies! Keep them entertained with board books and picture books like these adorable stories. Just ORDER them, or see if your local library has the ebook version. PLEASE. And support indie bookstores that are working hard to keep their employees paid and with benefits!

Alphaprints: Puppy Love, by Priddy Books, (Dec. 2019, Priddy Books), $7.99, ISBN: 9780312529383

Ages 0-3

How cute is this book? Embossed fingerprint animal faces with photo-textured bodies, tabbed pages that stand up to tiny, exploring hands, and five huggable rhymes about being snuggly and huggly! Adorable animal characters are bright, and rhymes teach littlest readers about bear hugs, love birds, purrfect pals, puppy love and bouncing bunnies. Kids will love the embossed fingerprint faces that provide interesting new texture. Use the photos that create each character’s body to talk about other textures: have fruit around the house? Let the little ones rub the apple, or banana, and tell them about “smooth” textures. Show them a pom pom, and tell them that is “fuzzy”. Point out colors, shapes, and animal sounds. There’s so much to be done using this little book!

 

 

Baby Shark (Based on the World’s Catchiest Song), Illustrated by Stevie Lewis, (Jan. 2020, Henry Holt), $8.99, ISBN: 9781250263186

Ages 0-3

You know the song. It’s burned into your memory banks like Gangnam Style, don’t fib. This adorable board book will be a beloved companion to the  music video you have eternally queued up on YouTube. A little girl and her mom walk into an aquarium, where the girl is excited to see a shark: a baby shark, really. (Cue beginning music) Sure enough, a baby shark swims by, and the words to the song run through the book for a fun version of the sing-a-long, with a twist! Kids visiting the aquarium all join the little girl, each joining in on a new phrase (“Mama Shark, Daddy Shark, the whole family is here”), and the sharks gather to greet the kids. The digital artwork gives us an adorable group of sharks and multicultural families having a fun day at the aquarium together, and you’ll be singing this song for a looooong time to come.

Need Baby Shark coloring sheets? Of course you do. SuperSimple, the home of Baby Shark and countless other music videos that make my storytimes so much fun, have your back with a six-page set. They also offer a Baby Shark printable play set – get those craft sticks out!

 

We Love Babies!, by Jill Esbaum, (Dec. 2019, National Geographic Kids), $17.99, ISBN: 9781426337482

Ages 0-5

Who does animal babies better than NatGeo Kids? This rhyming ode to babies of all shapes and sizes in the animal world is just too cute. Snouts, and bills, beaks and cheeks, the cutest baby animals get their moment to shine against brightly colored and patterned backgrounds. The photos are breathtaking, and the digital artwork of fluttering butterflies and baby animal cheerleaders ups the cute ante. Read this and talk up how adorable our own kiddos’ ears, noses, toeses, and belly buttons are. Give all the snuggles and kisses, because we all need more of that now. I’ll be reading this at an upcoming virtual storytime, because it just makes me happy.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

I give you… STEVE, TERROR OF THE SEAS!

Steve, Terror of the Seas, by Megan Brewis, (March 2109, Kane Miller), $14.99, ISBN: 978-1-61067-825-4

Ages 3-7

Steve is the cutest, friendliest little fish in the sea, so why is everyone so afraid of him? Steve swims around the sea, explaining to readers that it’s not easy being Steve as creatures large and small swim away in terror. Could it be the company he keeps?

Steve, Terror of the Seas, is straight-up hilarious, relying on the end reveal to bring home the joke. Sharp-eyed readers may be able to guess beforehand, but make that reveal dramatic: get out hand puppets or felt boards for this one. The writing keeps the joke running, with Steve baring his little teeth, wondering if they’re “too bad”, or puckering up to a group of retreating fish as he utters possibly the best phrase in the book, “Finding love has been a challenge”.

The book presents fun facts about pilot fish (like Steve), and some other scary denizes of the deep, including pufferfish, viperfish, toadfish, anglerfish, and my favorite, the not-very-threatening blobfish. Being that Steve is a pilot fish, we get some facts about them, too… including their relationships with sharks, like Steve’s best friend, George.

The artwork is adorable and works hand-in-hand with the text to provide a reading experience with a great punchline. Make sure to sing Baby Shark and Slippery Fish for this storytime!

Posted in Intermediate, Middle Grade, Middle School, Non-Fiction, Non-fiction, Non-Fiction, Tween Reads

BIG Summer Nonfiction Reads Roundup!

From sharks, to space, to stories of survival in the wild, I’ve got books for all sorts of nonfiction tastes! Let’s start with the oogie stuff and go from there.

They Lost Their Heads! What Happened to Washington’s Teeth, Einstein’s Brain, and Other Famous Body Parts, by Carlyn Beccia, (Apr. 2018, Bloomsbury), $18.99, ISBN: 9780802737458

Recommended for readers 10+

If you have readers who loved Georgia Bragg and Kevin O’Malley’s books, How They Croaked: Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous, and How They Choked: Failures, Flops, and Flaws of the Awfully Famous, this is a home run! Learn what happened to the famous body parts of 17 famous folks, and pick up some knowledge about other body parts and how they influenced science medicine. If you’ve ever ever wanted to know what happened to Thomas Edison’s last breath or Van Gogh’s missing ear, this is the place to go. You also learn cool stuff like what rots first after you die (psst… it’s the intestines). Loaded with black and white drawings, funny footnotes, sources, an index, and a bibliography. This one’s a hit for upper elementary readers, all the way through high school. They Lost Their Heads! has a starred review from Booklist.

StarTalk with Neil DeGrasse Tyson (Young Readers Edition), by National Geographic, (March 2018, National Geographic), $17.99, ISBN: 9781426330872

Recommended for readers 10+

I LOVE Neil DeGrasse Tyson and evangelize his StarTalk Radio podcast any chance I get. (Seriously, it’s great stuff.) NatGeo’s Young Readers edition of the StarTalk book is must-booktalk summer reading. Get your Summer Reading budget and buy some astronaut ice cream; while you and the kids feast, read the section on why you can’t get a pulled pork sandwich in space; find out what the Vomit Comet is; and read mini-bios on scientists like Carl Sagan. Not so much with the food? There are also sections on zombies and superheroes. Debate the eternal question: Could the Death Star really blow up a planet? There’s so much to discover in this book that every kid is darn near guaranteed to find something to interest him or her. (Psst… get an extra copy for yourself. You’ll thank me.)

 

Survivors: Extraordinary tales from the Wild and Beyond, by David Long/Illustrated by Kerry Hyndman, (Sept. 2017, Faber & Faber), $19.95, ISBN: 9780571316014

Recommended for readers 9-13

Do you know fans of Lauren Tarshis’ I Survived series? I’ve never been able to keep those books on the shelves, no matter which library I’ve been at. Middle graders go berserk for that series, and they’ll LOVE this oversized, illustrated anthology of true survival tales. There are 23 stories in here; the most famous being explorer Ernest Shackleton, who saved his crew when a 1914 Antarctic expedition put their lives in danger. There’s also the story of Hugh Glass, a “fur trapper and adventurer” who made the critical error of surprising a mother bear and her cubs by the Missouri River in 1823, or Mauro Prosperi, a runner competing in the 1994 Marathon of the Sands through the Sahara Desert, found himself in the middle of a sandstorm. Not crazy enough for your readers? There’s also a Hollywood pilot who crashed INSIDE a Hawaiian volcano in 1992. The stories are fast-paced, beautifully illustrated in color, and are perfect for adventure fans. Best part? All the stories are TRUE.

 

The Ultimate Book of Sharks, by Brian Skerry, Elizabeth Carney, & Sarah Wassner Flynn, (May 2018, National Geographic Kids), $19.99, ISBN: 9781426330711

Recommended for readers 7-13

Kids love sharks. This is a fact. The Ultimate Book of Sharks has all the info and pictures your shark-loving fans crave, just in time for Shark Week, which kicks off on July 22 (get your printables and programs lined up – I’ll do a separate post about Shark Week as it gets closer). The NatGeo folks bust myths about sharks, give us a look at shark anatomy, and – as always – provide loads of information about conservation and preservation, and how we can all help keep sharks, and our waters, safe and clean. This volume is chock full of fast facts and lists, with Up-Close Encounters, where marine wildlife photojournalist and author Brian Skerry shares some of his stories with readers. There’s an index at the end. This volume is an absolute must-add to your science and nature collections.

 

Red Alert! Endangered Animals Around the World, by Catherin Barr/Illustrated by Anne Wilson, (July 2018, Charlesbridge), $17.99, ISBN: 9781580898393

Recommended for readers 7-11

This is such a fun book. Think of a Choose Your Own Adventure about endangered animals, and you’ve got Red Alert! Red Alert! profiles 15 animals on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) list. A beginning note explains the organization’s “Red List”: a list of endangered plants, animals, and fungi, and lists some of the categories mentioned in the book. Colorful endpapers start the fun: the first, a map of the world, with the 15 profiled animals drawn into their world regions; final endpapers highlight a plethora of endangered animals. From here, readers can pick a place to explore: deserts, forests, mountains, grasslands, rivers, or oceans; pick a creature from each of these regions, and go to its page to read further. You can also read the book straight through. Spreads include the animals’ scientific names, facts, endangered category, and factors contributing to the endangerment of the species. A section at the end provides resources for more information on taking conservation action. A solid introduction to environmental action for younger readers.

 

National Geographic Kids Almanac (2019 Edition), (May 2018, National Geographic Kids), $14.99, ISBN: 9781426330131

Recommended for readers 8-13

Another guaranteed must-have from NatGeo Kids, this latest edition of their Kids Almanac shows readers a baby animal “tweet-off” between several zoos and aquariums (it’s from 2017, but who doesn’t want to revisit that simpler, lovelier time?), talks about updates in robotics and technology, dwarf planets, and has a Special Gross Edition of their Just Joking feature. Facts, quizzes, updated maps and stats, and homework help ideas all in one volume? This is one desk reference every kid should have – put one on your shelves, and keep one in your reference area, to be on the safe side.

 

How’s that for a start? Next time a kid comes in, stressed about needing a nonfiction book, consider yourself ready.

Posted in picture books

Under the Sea books for your favorite fishy fans!

The weather’s warming up, so why not start thinking of ocean-y fun? I’ve got a couple of fun, new books that are perfect for fans of sea life!

Shark Nate-O, by Becky Cattie and Tara Luebbe/Illustrated by Daniel Duncan, (Apr. 2018, little bee books), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1-4998-0496-6

Recommended for readers 4-7

Nate LOVES sharks. He’s got shark posters and books, spouts shark facts all day, and pretends to be a shark, chomping his way through the schoolyard and the dinner table. But Nate has a secret that’s keeping him from fully realizing his full shark potential: he can’t swim. And his school swim team is named The Sharks! Luckily, Nate has the tenacity of a great white, and takes lessons, determined to get on the team and show his brother – who’s also on the swim team – who the real shark is.

This is a fun story about overcoming fear. Nate loves sharks, but he’s got to learn how to swim; his first lesson doesn’t go so well – he feels like a “great white wimp” – but he doesn’t give up, and works harder, until he’s good enough to make it on the team and compete at the swim meet. The art is kid-friendly, with a great cover: Nate casts a shark-y shadow as he stands at the tiled floor of a pool area; the endpapers show wavy, bluish-green water with a single shark fin navigating the spreads. There’s a spread on different kinds of sharks, with fun facts (the blue shark eats until he throws up – and then goes back to eating). Kids, parents, and caregivers alike will enjoy reading this one.

 

Inky the Octopus: Bound for Glory, by Erin Guendelsberger/Illustrated by David Leonard, (Apr. 2018, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky), $17.99, ISBN:9781492654148

Recommended for readers 4-8

Based on a real-life story, Inky the Octopus is a rhyming tale about an octopus who escapes his New Zealand aquarium tank and heads out for the open sea. When we first meet Inky, he’s bored, maybe even a little sad, with his fish friend, Blotchy, for company. But he spies an open drain and that’s it: “Out of this tank, I must be free/I must explore the open sea!” Inky gets ready to make his escape, asking Blotchy to come with him – an invitation that his friend politely declines. The next morning, the discovery is made: Inky is gone, free to experience life in the ocean.

The real-life Inky escaped from his National Aquarium of New Zealand tank in 2016, when aquarium keepers came into work and noticed that the octopus wasn’t in his tank. It appears that he slipped through a small opening in his tank, maneuvered across the floor, and slid down a 164-foot-long drainpipe that led out to Hawke’s Bay. There’s even a real-life Blotchy, but he’s another octopus, not a fish. While there are other children’s books about Inky, including 2017’s Inky’s Great Escape by Casey Lyell and Sebastià Serra, Inky the Octopus is officially endorsed by the National Aquarium of New Zealand.

The artwork is adorable and the rhyming text gives a nice cadence to storytelling that allows for dramatic embellishment (at least, when I read it: he’s an octopus, he’s got eight arms, give him some grand gestures!) Inky has big, sweet eyes that will appeal to readers and have them falling in love with the sweet cephalopod, rooting for him to make a run for it. Information about the real-life Inky at the book’s conclusion adds a nice learning opportunity for readers.

 

Sea Creatures from the Sky, by Ricardo Cortés, (Apr. 2018, Black Sheep), $16.95, ISBN: Ricardo Cortés

Recommended for readers 4-8

A shark’s tale of being kidnapped by aliens! Kind of. A shark speaks directly to the reader in rhyme, confiding in us a true story that happened to him: he was kidnapped by aliens from the sky. Now, remember: when a shark looks up, that’s the sky. We know it as the surface. As the shark notes: “There is something else/and that’s no lie. It stole me from the ocean, and took me to the sky.” The poor shark sees a yummy fish, goes for a snack, and discovers – whoops! – the fish has a hook. And those aliens were terrifying: “In ships they steered? Faces with beards? Heads with two ears? It was all just too weird.” To add insult to injury, no one believes him. What’s a poor shark to do?

I loved everything about this story. The art is just beautiful, from the endpapers that could be a starry night sky or the surface of the water at night; the combination of realistic and almost dreamlike renderings of sea life, from the hazy, colorful jellyfish to the crisp spread of rays making their way through the story, to the black-eyed protagonist whose tale will make you chuckle and yet, feel for his plight (gender pronoun is mine; the character has no determined gender in the story). It’s a look at preservation and oceanography from a different point of view, and makes a realistic-looking shark less threatening, even likable. Kids will appreciate the misunderstood predator; how many times have kids been called out for exaggerating a recollection that is absolutely true from their point of view? Sea Creatures From the Sky provides a good jumping-off point to discuss point-of-view storytelling and what exactly the humans were doing with the shark when they “measured, probed, and spoke in strange code”. This one is a must-add to storytimes and books where sharks and undersea life are popular. Which, really, has to be, like every collection. Kids LOVE sharks.

Ricardo Cortés illustrated one of my baby shower gifts, Go The F**k to Sleep (no, I’ve never read it to the kiddo, but it did comfort me on many a sleepless night), and its child-friendly companion, Seriously, Just Go to Sleep.

 

Posted in Graphic Novels, Non-Fiction, Non-fiction, Tween Reads

Secret Coders and Science Comics – Comics that help kids love learning!

There are two more Science Comics coming your way from First Second, along with another Secret Coders volume. Let’s jump in and see what’s good!

 

Science Comics: Robots & Drones – Past, Present, & Future, by Mairghread Scott/Illustrated by Jacob Chabot, (March 2018, First Second), $19.99, ISBN: 9781626727939
Recommended for readers 9-13

The latest volume of Science Comics takes a deeper look at robots. With Poulli, a birdlike robot that’s also the first machine to ever fly through the sky (back in 350 BCE!), as our guide, readers get a guided tour through the history of robotics, and learn what is versus what isn’t a robot. New, programmable coffeemakers? Robots! Remote-controlled cars – not really. Kids get a refresher on simple machines (levels and pulleys) and how those simple concepts formed the building blocks for more complex machines, eventually leading to modern technology, robots, and drones. There’s a focus on the good robots and drones can accomplish (for those techno-phobes who see The Terminator as our eventual future) and the human component of computer programming. Isaac Asimov, legendary scientist and science fiction writer who gave us the Three Laws of Robotics, gets some recognition here, too.

There’s a nice shout-out to libraries and after-school programs as places to go to learn more about getting into programming and robotics, and some cool pop culture nods that parents will recognize (Star Trek and KITT from Knight Rider, to name a couple). The artwork features diverse characters putting their learning into practice, and the history of robotics covers diverse areas of the world. Poulli is a friendly, cute guide that will appeal to readers, and the language – as with all Science Comics – is easy to understand but never dumbs down information.

There’s a Hall of Awesome Robots, spotlighting 25 robots from history; a closer look at how drones work, and a glossary of new terms to finish up the volume.

Me? I immediately add the newest Science Comics to my shopping cart ; they’re a great add for my “True Story” nonfiction section, where I put books that may get lost on the actual nonfiction shelves, but will grab attention on their own. Plus, my True Story section is next to my Graphic Novels shelf, so it’s a win all around.

 

Secret Coders: Potions and Parameters, by Gene Luen Yang and Mike Holmes,
(March 2018, First Second), $10.99, ISBN: 9781626726079
Recommended for readers 8-12

While we’re talking about robots and programming, there’s a new volume of Secret Coders coming at you. The fifth installment of the series sees Hopper, Eni, and Josh going up against Professor One-Zero and his evil Green Pop. The stakes are high, especially now that Hopper’s dad’s fate lies in the balance! We get a lot more of Professor Bee’s origin, and the fight for the mystical Turtle of Light will keep you turning pages. Yang and Holmes challenge readers with more logic puzzles and codes to work through, and provide detailed explanation through their characters.

Science Comics: Sharks – Nature’s Perfect Hunter, by Joe Flood,
(Apr. 2018, First Second), $12.99, ISBN: 9781626727885
Recommended for readers 8-13

Science Comics has a one-two punch in March and April, first with Robots & Drones, next with Sharks. Kids LOVE sharks. The introduction nails it with its opening line: “Lots of kids, including many of you who are reading this book, go through an ‘I love sharks’ phase.” Shark books move off my shelves faster than just about any animal, tied only by dinosaurs (and we’ve already got a Science Comic on them), so this book should be going in your cart, sight unseen. But since that’s not what I do – and because I still do love sharks – here’s a bit more to whet your shark appetites.

 

The nonfiction narrative is tied together with a story about a fictional group of shark seekers, which leads into a discussion about the bad rap sharks have gotten over the years. The classic movie Jaws kicked off shark paranoia back in the mid-1970s, and that’s explored here, as is the fact that Jaws author Peter Benchley became a passionate shark conservationist in the aftermath of his book and subsequent movie.

Readers get a history of sharks from the prehistoric era until the present, with a look at shark physiology. migration patterns, variety, and eating habits. Spoiler alert: we don’t taste very good to them, and any biting is purely accidental.  We also get a peek at the one sea animal that can take down even a great white… and it ain’t man. A shark family tree, glossary of terms, and a more accurate clarification of how to phrase shark incidents (the section’s called “Don’t Say ‘Shark Attack'”).

As I was writing this review up, one of my library kids peeked over my shoulder and saw the page scans. When I told him Sharks was coming out in April, he yelped, “Are you kidding me?!” which just goes to show you, Science Comics: Sharks is going to be a hit. I may have to order two copies.

Posted in Intermediate, Middle Grade, Non-Fiction, Non-fiction, Non-Fiction, Tween Reads

Ocean Animals: Who’s Who in the Deep Blue!

big blueOcean Animals: Who’s Who in the Deep Blue, by Johanna Rizzo (May 2016, National Geographic Kids), $12.99, ISBN: 9781426325069

Recommended for ages 8-12

When you have a book featuring real life Dory on the cover and a Nemo on the first page of a book, you know NatGeo is paying attention to what kids like. Ocean Animals: Who’s Who in the Deep Blue is another home run from NatGeo Kids, combining breathtaking photos of ocean life (blobfish and anglerfish are breathtaking, if a bit in that gasp of “WHOA!” kind of way, after all) with interesting facts, information, and advocacy. Chapters are broken down by oceans of the world; the three layers the ocean, and the animals that inhabit them, featuring a great infographic; sharks and rays; marine mammals; a separate chapter on whales and dolphins; marine birds; ocean habitats; the Pristine Seas Project, and 20 Ways You Can Protect the Ocean. A glossary and index complete the volume.

I used this book as a companion to my ocean storytime today; it was great to be able to show the kids a beluga whale and an orca after we sang our song about whales. Saying the name over and over is one thing; seeing a picture of the real animal is another. I love NatGeo’s focus on advocacy, and how the organization empowers kids to take action to preserve their planet.

20160825_104603Sorry for the photo glare! Love this detailed infographic.

You all know I love NatGeo books, and now you know this copy’s already in my library. My little guy loves his copy; even though he’s only 4 years old, he loves looking at the photos, and I modify/paraphrase some of the information when he wants me to read it to him. This one’s a great selection for middle grade nonfiction collections and animal lovers.

20160825_104615Beautiful photo of a sea anemone

Posted in Non-Fiction, Non-Fiction

Get Smart About Sharks!

smart about sharksSmart About Sharks, by Owen Davey (Aug. 2016, Nobrow Ltd), $19.95, ISBN: 9781909263918

Recommended for ages 5-10

Kids love sharks. Owen Davey’s Smart About Sharks is going to jump off the shelves and demand to go home with these kids. What’s not to love? There are great infographics giving out wild information (wait until you see all the different kinds of teeth found in sharks across the world), bright, brilliant artwork with a retro feel to it, and tons of facts about sharks, including a debunking of their status as maneaters: if you’re on a surfboard, you look like a seal, and the book has the artwork to prove it.

I love Nobrow/Flying Eye books. They produce beautiful art books that appeal to kids. They manage to find amazing authors and illustrators who know how to attract a reader’s attention and provide facts in a way that is exciting, interesting, and fun. I’ll add this to my nonfiction collection, and I’m buying one for my own home. My 3 year old can’t get enough of this book, and can tell me which shark is a basking shark, and that a megalodon tooth is as big as a person’s head. No, he didn’t read that by himself, but he remembers it every time he sees the basking shark picture, and the infographic that shows the sizes of a great white shark and human being in proportion to a megalodon. Like I said: kids love sharks, and this book knows it.

Add this to collections where animal books are popular.

Posted in Adventure, Animal Fiction, Fantasy, Fiction, Middle Grade, Tween Reads

Tristan Hunt is back in The Shark Rider!

The boy who can talk to sharks is back at Sea Camp for another year in The Shark Rider!

When we last saw Tristan Hunt, he’d had a heck of a summer. He’d just learned that he was part of a very special group of kids: kids with underwater talents, whether it was the ability to speak to sharks, echolocation, the ability to communicate and change color like an octopus, or more. Invited to Sea Camp, a special summer camp that helped these kids develop their talents and do rescue work for the environment, Tristan and his friends ended up on the radar of J.P. Rickerton, a billionaire who leaves a trail of environmental havoc wherever he goes. This time out, though, the kids are a year older, a little more in command of their skills, and jump right into the adventure waiting for them.

tristan hunt

Tristan Hunt and the Sea Guardians, Book 2: The Shark Rider, by Ellen Prager, (May 2015, Mighty Media Press), $49.95, ISBN: 978-1938063510

Recommended for ages 8-12

This time, there’s an emergency situation near the British Virgin Islands. Fish are dying in large groups, and sponge are disappearing from the area. Tristan and his friends are dispatched to the scene to see what they can find out. Is J.P. Rickerton on the scene again? You have to read it to find out, but I will tell you that there’s another wacko billionaire businessman making his appearance in The Shark Rider! Some of our favorite sea creatures are back this time, too, including Hugh’s buddy, Old Jack the Octopus, but there are some new animals on the scene, too, including a vegetarian shark and a mantis shrimp with an anger management issue. Who may be my new favorite minor character ever, and possibly my new spirit animal.

Ellen Prager ramp up the action in this second book, throwing the kids right into the heart of things. Where the first book was a little bit of Harry Potter with a dash of Percy Jackson, The Shark Rider adds some James Bond to the fun, with but she also gives us new gadgets (robo-jellies!), intrigue, and filthy rich villains. We also learn more about our oceans and the animals we share them with, including some very British sharks whose personalities are a bit more buttoned-up than the Bahamian bunch we met last time, but still witty and up for a tussle with the bad guys. You’ll root for the good guys, hiss at the bad guys, and have a blast reading this story.

Don’t forget, author Ellen Prager is a marine scientist and children’s author, with an author webpage that budding conservationists and marine biologists will love!

Make sure to read The Shark Whisperer and The Shark Rider by May – Stingray City is coming!

 

Posted in Animal Fiction, Fantasy, Fiction, Middle Grade, Tween Reads

Tristan Hunt and the Sea Guardians: Middle Grade marine adventure!

shark whispererTristan Hunt and the Sea Guardians, Book 1: The Shark Whisperer, by Ellen Prager, (May 2014, Mighty Media), $9.95, ISBN: 978-1938063442

Recommended for ages 9-13

Twelve year-old Tristan Hunt is kind of a klutz. He trips and falls a lot, which garners him a lot of teasing at school and disappointed glances from his father at home. The luckiest thing happens to him, though, when he falls into a shark tank while vacationing with his parents in the Florida Keys – not only does he emerge unharmed, but shortly after the incident, he receives an invite to a very special summer camp – a summer camp where all the campers learn that they have special talents when it comes to the ocean and the creatures that live there. Tristan can communicate with sharks – that’s a pretty handy talent to have! – and once he’s in the water, he’s not a klutz at all.

That’s not all, though. The camp staff not only teach the kids to hone their abilities, but use them to protect and rescue sea life. They’re supposed to wait until they’re older and receive more training before they qualify for missions, but when critical mission pops up and the team is short-staffed, Tristan and his friends may have to save the day.

This is the first book in a middle grade series that Mighty Media was kind enough to send me, and I am thrilled that they did. With hat tips to both Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, this summer camp for gifted kids is packed with adventure and wonder – the kids are thrilled, yet nervous, about discovering and embracing their new abilities. There’s some great information about various forms of sea life in here, making this a must-read for kids with an interest in sharks, dolphins, octopuses, or any other sea creature. Once it’s established that the kids can communicate with the animals, they each exhibit their own personalities, which adds some fun to the mix (and the sharks with Jamaican accents are hilarious).

Author Ellen Prager is a marine scientist and children’s author, so she brings a great deal of expertise and knowledge to the book. Budding conservationists are going to want to have this book in their collections, too. Ellen Prager’s author webpage offers more information about her background, beautiful photos, fun facts, and printable puzzles to share.

The series is also perfect for your more conservative students and readers. It’s clean, the kids are respectful to adults and one another (mostly), and the adults are fun to be around while exhibiting concern for the kids’ welfare. We’ve got a villain who cares nothing for life outside of his own interests, and has the resources to make enough trouble for the Sea Guardians that we know he’ll be around for at least another book.

This is a fun series for both boys and girls that may have been missed when it hit shelves last year – make sure to give it a look and consider adding it to your shelves this year. I’m always a fan of finding a little magic in my tween realism when I can find it.