January 5, 2015
Neighborhood Sharks by Katherine Roy
Hunting with the Great Whites of
California’s Farallion Islands
by Katherine Roy
David Macauley Studio/Roaring Brook Press
True confessions – although I’ve written about sharks and I’m reviewing this book, I am not a shark fan. In fact, they creep me out.
That said, this book pulled me in and wouldn’t let me go. I read bits of it to my poor husband. Did you know a great white can be 8 feet wide? Eight feet? That’s frighteningly close to the width of my office. Although most fish are cold blooded, great whites operate like warm blooded animals because their circulatory system pumps their blood through their muscles. All of their motion and movement warms their blood. This is part of the reason that they can move so fast. They can also push their jaws out from their skulls. I can’t even imagine how that must feel.
This book definitely grabbed me.
Author Katherine Roy describes their hunting ground, the Farallion Islands some 30 miles from San Francisco. In fact, this is where most of this nonfiction story takes place. The islands are where the sharks hunt elephant seals, fatten up and then hit the road. It seems that these sharks reserve one area for feeding, one for breeding and another for deliveries.
Roy explains why sharks are such efficient hunters, the features that play into this ability and how scientists are learning more about these animals. Roy’s illustrations aren’t overly graphic when it comes to hunting but she doesn’t pull any punches either. This book is, after all, straight up science.
I was a little surprised that she didn’t offer much information on the shark’s sense of smell. She explains this in the back matter; apparently, little is known about how a great white’s sense of smell works and Roy didn’t want to confuse readers with unproven hypothesis.
This book is an excellent choice for the science classroom or for any young reader who is enthusiastic about these might hunters.