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Saturday, August 8, 2015

Land Shark, written by Beth Ferry and illustrated by Ben Mantle. Chronicle Books, Raincoast. 2015. $22.50 ages 3 and up

"No enormous saltwater tank.
No rows of sharp teeth.
No awesome dorsal fin.
No ... shark.


"What's this?" Bobby asked.
"A puppy," said his mom.
"The 'very best, most coolest
present ever.'"

While most kids, at one time or another, REALLY want to have a pet, most are not likely to want 'a real, scooped-out-of-the-ocean, chock-full-of-teeth shark.'  Bobby assures his parents he is not particular about the kind of shark it should be. But, a shark is what he wants.

When he is disappointed at the appearance of a puppy for his birthday, his family is flabbergasted. They had never had any intention of getting him a shark. They even laughed at him. Bobby did not get so upset that he cried. He knew that shark lovers would never cry.

His mom tries to console him, asking that he give his new puppy a chance. Nope, not going to happen. Hmmm! As days pass by, the puppy proves to be quite formidable. He loves dirt, garbage, chewing. Bobby is impressed. The more trouble caused by the puppy, the more likely Bobby will get the pet he would love to have. Give up the naughty puppy, get a shark!

It isn't exactly the way it goes for either Bobby or the puppy.

"And the puppy HAD done it.
She had barked and chewed and bitten her way ...
right into Bobby's heart."

Ben Mantle does a superb job of showing the mischief and the path of destruction one young, exuberant puppy can create. His spreads are awash with the humorous details that give Bobby such pleasure and the rest of the family such consternation. His humorous takes on the author's fun, adding some of his own unscripted details, are most welcome. Happy birthday, Bobby!


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