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Take 5: Sharks!

I’m going to continue our Shark Week theme from yesterday, by sharing a Take 5 list with shark books. Technically, two of the books are not really shark books, but they have awesome shark scenes. If you have more titles to add to the list, please do so in the comments. I would hate to miss any!

Surrounded by Sharks by Michael Northrop

Scholastic Book Description:

Dragged out to sea with nothing but a piece of trash to keep him afloat, Davey is certain things can’t get any worse…and then he spots a shark.

He couldn’t sleep. That’s how it all started.

When Davey wakes, just as the sun is rising, he can’t wait to slip out of the crammed hotel room he’s sharing with his family. Leave it to his parents and kid brother to waste an entire day of their vacation sleeping in! Davey heads for the beach, book and glasses in hand, not bothering to leave a note. As the sparkling ocean entices him, he decides he will just test the water. Never mind that “No Swimming” sign. But when the waves pull him farther and farther out to sea, Davey finds himself surrounded not only by water, but something else, something circling below the surface.

This book was brought to my attention on Twitter and I haven’t read it yet, but I can’t wait.

The Living by Matt da la Pena

I am including this book because 1) it is an awesome book and because 2) there are sharks.  Shy takes a job working on a cruise ship because it pays well. But while at sea, the big one hits and triggers powerful storms. When the cruise ship is thrown, there are few survivors, but they find themselves adrift at sea in the few rescue boats they could find. And while drifting at sea, there are, of course, sharks. The Living is a great read and I highly recommend it. I gave it a 4Q and 5P rating in my VOYA review.

Of Posiedon by Anna Banks

Emma and her best friend are swimming in the ocean when Emma sees a shark attack and kill her. But something else happens this day at the beach and Emma begins to realize that she is a not completely human. Soon Galen, the prince of Syrena, and co are watching over Emma as they try to help her realize who she is an accept her destiny.

Meg by Steve Alten


This book is not actually a YA title, but it is awesome and it goes on my list. I listened to this book on audio years ago while driving to my grandmother’s house and I purposely drove 1/2 past her house so I could finish the book, then I doubled back. It was that exciting. Basically, a previously thought extinct Megalodon surfaces and terrorizes. If you have seen any of the Mega Shark VS. whatever movies on SyFy then you know what a Meg is. There are more Meg books by Steve Alten. And if you can, definitely listen to the audio, it’s good.

Jaws by Peter Benchley


Yep, also not technically a YA title. But this is the grandaddy of all shark books and it should be on all the lists. I remember watching the movie for the first time sometime during the summer of the first and second grade. It was terrifying. And on Christmas Eve this year, the 5-year-old and I stayed up and watched it together for her first time while we waited for Santa, possibly the beginning of the weirdest family Christmas tradition ever. She asks to watch the movie all the time and the thing is, it’s still really awesome. So, if you haven’t, go read the book, but probably not at the beach because it might freak out the other beachgoers.

The Living by Matt de Lana Pena (reviewed in VOYA December 2013)

I have been reviewing for VOYA since 2001.  This year, something really exciting happened.  On page 55 of the December 2013 issue of VOYA, I reviewed THE LIVING by Matt de la Pena.  Just yesterday, at the ALA Youth Media Awards, it was announced that this title won a Pura Belpre Honor Award. 

“The Pura Belpré Award is a recognition presented to a Latino or Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays the Latino cultural experience in a work of literature for children or youth. It was established in 1996. It has been given every other year since 1996. Beginning with the 2009 award, it will be given annually.” (from ALA)

Here’s an excerpt of my review in VOYA:

de la Pena manages to pack a lot into THE LIVING: there is an examination of social class, a pandemic (already in existence and effecting Shy’s life); the adventure saga at sea, and a conspiracy plot all of which take the reader on a whiplash of adventure.  In less deft hands, the pieces could fall apart, but de la Pena manages to make it all work.  There are a few convenient coincidences that come into play but in the end, readers just will not care because this is an excellent, enthralling ride.  Shy is an interesting main character with an authentic voice . . .

In the end, I gave THE LIVING a 4Q and 5P rating.  Watching a book I love win an award was very affirming.

Congratulations Matt on this well deserved honor!