Shawn knows just about everything there is to know about sharks, but friendship proves a little trickier to grasp in Manley and Subisak’s collaboration.
Shawn, a light-skinned boy of color, loves sharks, and his love is deep—deeper than the waters in which sharks live, deeper than the gaze of their dark eyes. He loves their “streamlined shape” and their “big mouths full of sharp teeth,” and he especially loves pretending to be a shark at recess, chasing classmates across the playground. When his brown-skinned teacher tells everyone that they’ll be learning about the predator that they each pick from a bowl, Shawn can barely contain his enthusiasm for the project as he takes his place in line, reaches excitedly into the bowl, and confidently draws…a leopard seal. Across the room, Asian classmate Stacy has picked the great white shark, and no matter how much Shawn begs—grovels!—to trade, not only is he stuck with the seal, but he is also suddenly no longer the top predator on the playground. Manley’s spare text is an excellent conductor for the dynamic energy built in Subisak’s clean, open spreads as Shawn’s passion for sharks spills onto the page. And as Shawn’s fascination (and research skills) expands to embrace leopard seals, his exuberance for predators makes a surprisingly strong foundation for a new friendship.
Fun, quirky obsessions nurtured and celebrated. (Picture book. 4-8)