November 22, 2017

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If Sharks Disappeared by Lily Williams | SLJ Review

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redstarWILLIAMS, Lily. If Sharks Disappeared. illus. by Lily Williams. 40p. bibliog. glossary. websites. Roaring Brook. Jun. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781626724136.

K-Gr 2 –Young audiences learn conservation vocabulary and concepts through an illustrated examination of what might happen if sharks were to become extinct. A brown-skinned girl in a boat acts as a guide for this predictive exercise. She first introduces sharks as part of a healthy ocean, then describes the ways in which sharks influence our ecosystem. In accessible language that doesn’t shy away from scientific terminology, the book lays out the path of the trophic cascade that might result from a complete shark extinction. Vibrant seascapes full of movement and a diverse array of underwater flora and fauna contrast sharply with spreads of an ocean choked with algae and devoid of wildlife and plants. Ending on a hopeful note that reaffirms the importance of sharks and downplays their scary reputation, Williams appends additional information on threats to sharks, suggestions for child-appropriate actions to take, and an author’s note. A former animator, Williams offers illustrations that balance scientific accuracy with a familiar and appealing cartoon quality. Text color and placement and variations in page layout provide plenty of variety and visual interest but may slow down read-alouds. VERDICT While the future is impossible to predict, Williams presents a scientifically grounded view of a world without sharks that should spark discussion and inspire action in budding ecologists. A terrific addition to any school or public library.–Chelsea Couillard-Smith, Hennepin County Library, MN

This review was published in the School Library Journal May 2017 issue.

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