Saturday, November 15, 2014


 "Every September, the great white sharks return to San Francisco. Their hunting grounds, the Farallon Islands, are just thirty miles from the city. 

While their 800,000 human neighbors dine on steak, salad, and sandwiches, the white sharks hunt for their favorite meal."

So begins NEIGHBORHOOD SHARKS, Katherine Roy's debut picture book, which is probably one of the most unique books I've read recently. The first few pages appear to be typical picture book format, with two or three lines of text on a page. About the fifth page, however, that format changes, to more an upper grade nonfiction type book. The first text-heavy spread describes the pinnipeds (seals and sea lions) that live on the Farfallon Islands, and the scientists that study them. The next five two-page spreads are devoted to five unique adaptations that enable sharks to effectively hunt seals. Did you know that sharks pectoral fins provide lift in the water, similar to the wings on a jet plane? Or that they have a complex web of arteries and veins that acts as a heat exchange system, which through swimming, increases their body temperature, and allows them to digest food and move more quickly? Or that their jaws aren't fused to their skulls, but instead can be projected forward, so that they have maximum bite force?

After describing these adaptations, Roy switches back to typical picture book format for a few more pages, before going back to a few more text-heavy spreads that describe the scientists' process for tracking sharks, the great whites' place in the food chain, and their migration process.

Katherine Roy studied under David Macauley at the Rhode Island School of Design, and the water color illustrations in this book are incredible- the way she captures the sharks' movement and attack feels as real as, well, as real as watching the shark attacks in JAWS. Kids are going to love the illustrations. The book also includes lots of beautiful labelled diagrams, which they are going to enjoy just as much.

A terrific book for classrooms and Christmas presents!

Katherine Roy wrote a post for the Nerdy Book Club about a month ago.

And was interviewed by Mr. Schu here

And here's a really interesting blog post about the process Katherine Roy used to create SHARKS.

And another link to her sketchbooks.


Linda B said...

I've seen this discussed, and it does look wonderful, Carol. Thanks for the extra links too. I like looking at the illustrator's pages!

Unknown said...

Thank you, Carol, for your wonderful review! And for the links, it's so nice that folks are starting to explore my site. And so happy to have found yours!