Shark Teeth

Bloomsbury. Jan. 2024. 304p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781547608508.
Gr 5 Up–Twelve-year-old Sharkita has always been told by her mom that she’s her “ride or die.” To Kita, this means covering for her mom when she goes out drinking or disappears for days. As the primary caregiver for her younger siblings Lamar, who has fetal alcohol syndrome, and Lilli, Kita struggles to keep her family together. When they’re reunited after being separated in different foster homes, Sharkita’s mother promises that this time will be different. Hopeful with her mother’s precarious promises, Kita joins the baton twirling team. Despite her best efforts, grown-ups in Sharkita’s life take notice of her struggles; her new assistant principal and coach Dr. Sapperstein, and her school counselor encourage her to reach out for the help she so desperately needs. Tragedy strikes one night when Kita’s mom leaves Lamar and Lilli at home alone. Sharkita grapples with the decision of keeping her family together at all costs, or truly doing what’s best for them. Young readers will connect with this powerful story that paints a realistic and heartbreaking picture of family conflict. Kita is a brave protagonist many will root for as she wrestles with emotional turmoil, eventually transforming into a heroine for her siblings. Secondary characters are well developed, and the contrast between Sharkita’s mother and Dr. Sapperstein as dependable adults is beautifully illustrated.
VERDICT A must-buy for every library, this belongs in the hands of young readers and those who care for them.

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