Title: I Survived The Shark Attacks of 1916
Author(s): Lauren Tarshis
Cover Art by: Steve Stone and Tim Hall
Publisher and Year: Scholastic (2010)
Number of pages: 87
Genre: Historical Fiction
Descriptive Annotation: In I Survived the Shark Attacks of 1916, main character Chet is a young boy living with his uncle who owns a diner in New Jersey. Chet’s friends come into the diner and show Chet a newspaper article about a shark attack off the coast of New Jersey that ended in a man being killed. Many of the locals think that this is a made up article, because they think that sharks don’t attack people. However, an old sea captain sitting in the diner contests that sharks will attack people. Chet meets his friends at the creek later and his friends play a trick on him, pretending to be sharks. To get back at his friends Chet pretends to be a creek monster several days later and his friends stop talking to him. After several days of not speaking with his friends, Chet decides to meet his friends down at the creek. When he gets to the creek his friends are happy to see him, but Chet sees a dark fin racing after one of his friends. Chet dives into the creek and helps get his friend to safety- however, gets hold of Chet’s leg. After a few more days Chet wakes up in the hospital. His leg will heal but he will have a limp. The book ends with Chet making up with his friends and Chet’s uncle offering to share ownership of the diner with Chet’s parents so that they can all live close to each other.
Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: Linguistically, this book uses fairly common words and has very few words per page for a chapter book. There is a section at the end of the book that contains the historical foundation of this book- this portion is written in a conversational tone despite being content area reading. Culturally, everyone in this book is white and of similar income. There is some tension between different generations in the book. The main character Chet struggles against his parents and some of the townspeople see the old sea Captain a senile old-timer.
Interdisciplinary Connections: I Survived the Shark Attacks of 1916 would be a good book to relate to a science unit about sharks. Students could examine misconceptions about sharks and how these views had to be re-evaluated; additionally students could try to determine why the sharks moved up into the creek from the ocean.
Other Information: This book was enjoyable. It was an extremely easy read (it only took me 30 minutes to complete). I think many students would find this book easy and enjoyable as well. Because the book is written from the perspective of a young boy it contains much information that would be relevant to students’ lives. Additionally, the danger element of the shark attack would make this book a very exciting read. Overall, I really enjoyed this book and feel it would appeal to many students.