Big animals like great white sharks are often the objects of strong emotions, which can lead to the spread of misinformation and myth. For that reason, nonfiction books for kids like Searching for Great White Sharks: A Shark Diver’s Quest for Mr. Big (Shark Expedition) by Mary M Cerullo and photographs by Jeffrey L Rotman are so important.
This book is unique because Mary Cerullo tells the story of world-renowned underwater photographer Jeffrey Rotman’s quest to capture great white sharks on film and the readers get to see the resulting up close photos he took. Thus, the text and illustrations are tied together intimately. Cerullo gives Rotman’s first impressions of the sharks when he finally meets one face to face (big and stealthy!) and details of how he photographed them (wait!).
Rotman traveled around the globe, following the great white sharks as they search for food from Australia to South Africa and then to Guadalupe Island in Mexico.
(Imagery by Jesse Allen, NASA’s Earth Observatory, using data from the General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans (GEBCO) produced by the British Oceanographic Data Centre.)
Sprinkled in are facts about great white shark biology and behavior. For example, great white sharks are fish and fish are cold-blooded, so great white sharks must be cold-blooded, right? Not really. It turns out that great white sharks have the ability to warm their bodies above the temperature of the surrounding water, so they are not strictly cold-blooded.
Although written for children, this book does not gloss over or sanitize the fact that people sometimes get bitten by great white sharks. In fact, on page 13 is the story of Rodney Fox, a man who was bitten by a shark. The text is accompanied by small but very graphic photographs of his extensive wounds.
In what has become an all too familiar theme for books about animals, Cerullo also reports that the numbers of great white sharks in the oceans are declining to the point where they are a vulnerable species (getting closer to extinction). She mentions conservationists are working to get laws passed to protect great whites and also are pushing for the creation of more and larger marine sanctuaries as ways to prevent their disappearance.
Searching for Great White Sharks is a topical book, given the interest generated by popular media such as Discovery Channel’s Shark Week. It is a perfect antidote to some of the hype, yet it is also likely to generate more realistic interest in these important and fascinating fish.
If you enjoy this title, check out the others in the Shark Expedition series.
Age Range: 11 – 15 years
Grade Level: 5 – 7
Publisher: CompassPointBooks (July 1, 2014)
Disclosures: The book was provided by the publisher for review purposes. I am an affiliate for Amazon, and if you click through the linked titles or ads and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no extra charge to you. Proceeds will be used to maintain this self-hosted blog.
Come visit the STEM Friday blog each week to find more great Science, Technology, Engineering and Math books.
This post is part of our ocean science series. Visit the landing page for links to all the related posts.