Surrounded by Sharks

224p. Scholastic. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780545615457.
Gr 5–7—Stuck in a hotel room with his parent and younger brother, Davey decides anywhere on the tropical island resort his parents brought him to is better than his room. He sets off to find a quiet place to read, until his family is up and moving. Deciding the lure of the water is too strong, he wades in too far and gets sucked out into the ocean by a riptide. Hoping for a rescue, Davey clings to a water cooler bottle to stay afloat, only to find himself in the company of sharks. The climax steadily builds as readers are pulled through the narrative via multiple points of view, including that of Davey; a tiger shark; and Brando, his adventurous younger brother. Overall, this story strikes a balance of suspense and action, all while interweaving intriguing facts about sharks. Of special interest for reluctant readers and fans of survival stories.—Stephanie Charlefour, Wixom Public Library, MI
A satisfying, atmospheric, and suspenseful story. Insight into the characters occurs naturally, with concrete details. For example, readers will gather that Davey is beginning to feel like he has to prove himself to his brother, Brandon, who’s no longer the little kid who used to follow him around: “Davey had slept in a T-shirt and his swim trunks because . . . well, basically because his brother had. If pajamas are too babyish for your younger brother, they are, by extension, too babyish for you.” Davey’s fight to survive is involving. Kids will want to keep reading as trouble mounts, beginning with the rip current he attempts to swim against: “He pushed his muscles to the point of exhaustion and then past that. . . . He was in a river in the sea.” The narrative’s tension builds as the focus alternates between Davey’s perilous situation, the mistakes made by the search party, and details on the shark’s whereabouts as it closes in: “It glided slowly by, ten feet down. [Davey] saw its pointed head and its knifelike body.”
On vacation with his family, Davey leaves the hotel in the early morning. When he goes for a dip, a rip tide drags him out to sea, with no one the wiser. What follows is a series of miscommunications, escalating dangers, and one thrilling survival story. Davey's fear is palpable as his worries extend beyond the sharks circling beneath him.

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