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Sunday, January 22, 2017

Smart About Sharks, written and illustrated by Owen Davey. Flying Eye Books, Publishers Group Canada. 2016. $28.95 ages 8 and up

"Seals can easily outsmart a shark if they see it coming, so great white sharks stage surprise attacks. Stalking the seals until the perfect moment, the shark will attack from below. Using only a few massive swipes of their tail, a great white shark can snatch the seal from the surface and leap up to three metres out of the water, landing with the prize ... "

In this second book about one particular animal, Owen Davey provides an exceptional look at the shark in all its wonder, and the unknowns that have so many of us fearful of even seeing one.

The table of contents intrigues with such two-page offerings as: A Bite to Eat, Making a Meal of Things, And the Award Goes to ... , Hammer and Tail, and Congratulations! It's A Shark. Inviting, no?

The man has done his research. He helps readers learn about reproduction, anatomy, and behaviors while also exploring some of the cultural myths that make the shark an integral part of history.

"There are many shark gods in Hawaiian culture, but the chief of them is Ka-moho-ali'i. He could take on the form of any fish, and was known to guide Hawaiians home from sea if they offered him a drink known as awa."

There is much diversity in the shark world, and Owen Davey is adept at providing very informative and engaging text for shark lovers everywhere. This is a book that should be on classroom and library shelves. His artwork is quite beautiful, providing a perfect framework for the information shared. Each page is full of fascinating facts that will have young readers eager to share what they have learned while reading it.

In an informative interview he had this to say about his work:

“Most sharks aren’t great for drawing from life though – they’re not great at staying still,” he adds. While illustrations are fairly accurate, he says there are not designed to be “completely anatomically correct”. “I’m trying to get people interested and excited about these animals. Nobody will read my books and be an expert. I mean, I’m nowhere near an animal expert…. I’m hoping these books will ignite a curiosity in people so that they find out more on their own; watch documentaries for themselves, or read books, or visit the animals, or even try and help with some conservation of them,” he adds.

What a treat this is - beautifully detailed pages that are filled with facts that are sure to delight both children and adults. Don't miss Mad About Monkeys (Flying Eye Books, 2015) and if you are anything like me, wait impatiently for what he is working on next. It is sure to be a delight!

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