Shark Dog enlivens a field trip to the great outdoors.
Ms. Ablett invites the child narrator’s father along since he’s a famous explorer, and “it made sense for Shark Dog to join the fun” as well. The trip to the woods starts off as any might, the racially diverse students using magnifying glasses to examine creepy-crawlies and record their finds. But Shark Dog’s arrival at a pond full of identical-looking “frogs and toads” puts an end to the normalcy. And after the kids see tons of flora and fauna on the nature trail, lunch brings rain and mud, which is Shark Dog’s favorite! Afterward, the students pair up to find “something interesting,” many of them bringing their finds back to the group. (Shark Dog brings a branch still attached to a portion of trunk, in the hollow of which sits a perturbed owl.) But the big find (thanks to Shark Dog’s nose) is a bear cub trapped under a fallen tree. The group works together to free it (nothing is said about mama bear) and follows Shark Dog’s sniffer back to the bus. Adamson’s cartoony pencil-and-watercolor illustrations are bright, cheery, and busy, but the outdoor etiquette shown in them is not always spot-on (kids feed a squirrel from their lunches, for example), and the round white eyes of the wildlife give them a rather manic look. The narrator, Dad, and Ms. Ablett all present white.
This fantasy field trip is one kids are better off skipping. (Picture book. 4-6)