This tale of an anthropomorphic baby shark trying to find out who he is has shades of both “The Ugly Duckling” and Are You my Mother?
Within his egg case, Shark Baby is curious to know what kind of shark he is. When a storm rips the egg case from its kelp mooring, a tear opens up, allowing Shark Baby to peek out and ask each of the sea creatures he meets, “What are you?” (The ocean current moves him about.) But Shark Baby is not like any of these other sharks. In the end, his instincts serve him well, and identify him, when his egg case bursts in front of a hungry sea lion. Bersani’s illustrations combine realism with slightly personified sea creatures and bring the watery ocean world into readers’ homes, but they lack a key identifying the species in the backgrounds. Backmatter provides additional facts about sharks and egg cases and a comparison of six shark species by size, from the great white to the tiny pajama shark, whose size on the page precludes readers’ making out any details. Readers can also put their knowledge to use by answering some true/false questions and comparing/contrasting three shark species’ egg cases. Unfortunately, the ruler at the bottom of the page is obscured by a drawing of a chicken egg, which cuts off the cm/inch delineation.
Highlights a side to sharks not often found in picture books, but readers can find better, notably Surprising Sharks, by Nicola Davies and illustrated by James Croft (2003). (Informational picture book. 4-7)