“They’re laid back. They’re calm. They’re beautiful.”
That’s shark researcher Greg Skomal’s assessment of great whites, the subject of Montgomery’s latest entry in the long-running Scientists in the Field series. Here, she invites her readers to appreciate the glory of these much-feared sharks, first through the work of scientists who use video recordings and tags to identify and then track individual sharks who spend summers off Cape Cod, and then with a diving expedition off Guadalupe, Mexico. This acclaimed nature writer’s particular strength is that she's not afraid to describe scientific drudge work, giving a rounded picture of what being a field scientist is like. She chooses examples carefully and structures her six smoothly written chapters to build to a crescendo of excitement, going from an unproductive day (and some dull but important safety details) to a very satisfying one and then to an up-close encounter with sharks from the vantage point of a shark cage. Informational segments, including some intriguing facts and surprising statistics, separate each chapter. She picks out details that will engage her middle school readers. Ellenbogen’s photographs, both close-up and from the perspective of a spotter plane, bring readers even closer to her experience.
This appreciative introduction to a much-maligned species will thrill readers while it encourages them to see great white sharks in a new way. (maps, bibliography, Web resources, acknowledgments, index) (Nonfiction. 10-15)