Reviewed by: BigAl with input from The Princess
Approximate word count: 15-20,000 words
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“Carla Allen is an award-winning reporter for The Vanguard, a community newspaper in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. Some of her happiest moments have been at sea, including working for a week banding lobsters on her cousin’s boat, the Scalded Witch; sailing across the Gulf of Maine aboard an 80-foot ketch in the Yarmouth Cup race; travelling from Yarmouth to Bar Harbor with Spike Hampson as part of his riverboat odyssey; or simply paddling about the local harbour in her kayak.”
“How did a giant shark caught in 2004 end up as an urban legend? The answer to that question, as well as fascinating details about shark attacks around the world, shark research, and much more can be found in Shark On Line. See these fearsome predators up close in a collection of photos snapped by this award-winning journalist.”
The blurb for this said it was “an easy read and highly recommended for all ages.” Kids love animals, birds, and fish, right? So I had The Princess, my nine year-old granddaughter, read it before I did and give me her impressions. If I’d read it first, I might not have assigned it to The Princess. Not because it was a hard read (it may have stretched her reading skills a touch, but not all that much and she felt it was of appropriate difficulty for her age and up). Nor because there was anything she shouldn’t have been allowed to read. But because it really isn’t going to be that great a read for someone who isn’t really into sharks. Her verdict agreed, saying it would be good for someone “interested in sharks” and she gave it a letter grade of C, the low score primarily because, as she told me, “sharks died … I don’t like animals dying.”
The content is a mishmash of original material with other material reprinted from articles that appeared elsewhere, comments from the internet (about an urban legend revolving around one of the largest sharks ever caught), and new material. At times, it felt like it didn’t make up a coherent whole, with some subjects being discussed in multiple sections from multiple perspectives or two chapters that felt like a newspaper or magazine “round-up” article with different facts about sharks, each getting a paragraph or two’s discussion. These chapters (the last two, one on “Shark Attacks” and the other, reasonably called “Shark bits & bites”) seemed to be there as much to pad the word count as any other reason.
In the final analysis, The Princess was right: if you’re really interested in sharks, you’ll like Shark On Line, and if your interest isn’t that intense, you’ll probably still find some things of interest. (I especially enjoyed the discussion of shark fin soup as well as the section discussing a series of shark attacks in New Jersey that was said to have inspired Peter Benchley’s book Jaws.) The included pictures also add a lot and look good in black and white on an eink Kindle, but much better on a color reader.
No significant issues proofing.
The font in some sections randomly changed from regular to light gray and back.
Rating: *** Three stars