Kirkus Reviews QR Code
MOTHER OF SHARKS by Melissa Cristina Márquez


by Melissa Cristina Márquez ; illustrated by Devin Elle Kurtz

Pub Date: May 30th, 2023
ISBN: 9780593523582
Publisher: Penguin Workshop

A Latine ocean enthusiast gets the surprise of a lifetime in this tale from Márquez, a Puerto Rican shark scientist committed to making STEM fields more inclusive.

As the sun sets on the beautiful Playita del Condado, Puerto Rico, Meli promises her mami that she’ll be ready to leave in just five minutes. She’s shocked when a hermit crab suddenly speaks to her. As Meli and her new friend, Jaiba, travel underwater and witness the effects of humans’ damaging impacts on the ecosystem, her interest in sharks and ocean conservation is amplified. Meli, who is brown-skinned with curly brown hair, has many questions, but when Jaiba suggests she become a scientist, she quietly muses that she hasn’t seen any who look like her. Then she and Jaiba find themselves in the audience of a lecture being delivered by a real-life scientist who resembles her. Meli observes the scientist, referred to as the Mother of Sharks, conducting research—and soon realizes that she and the scientist are one and the same. In a flash, she’s back on the beach and her five minutes are up, but her passion for science has been ignited. Readers will soak up the vividly illustrated underwater scenes alongside the important message to follow their passions; children from marginalized backgrounds will be especially heartened by Márquez’s encouraging tale. Meli and Jaiba speak English, though there’s some unitalicized Spanish throughout. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A magical story for budding scientists.

(author’s note, glossary, resources, Spanish translations) (Picture book. 5-8)