Popular Read In My Classroom
I SURVIVED SHARK ATTACKS 1916 has been hugely popular since arriving in my classroom last month. It's fairly short, always a plus with reluctant readers. Students have been talking to each other about it. But most of all, it's good.
Chet Roscow is a ten year old boy living with his Uncle Jerry in New Jersey. Chets parents are away in California. His dad, a dreamer, can not stay in one place for very long, so Chet has bounced around place to place before finding stability with his uncle.
Even though Chet has not been living in the beach town of Elm Hills long, he has made three friends, and the four of them enjoy playing pranks on each other. Because of this, the author is able to implant a few feux attacks early on, which in my opinion, builds suspense for young readers.
Uncle Charlie owns a store in town, which serves as a meeting place for the adults, and sometimes Chet and his three friends. In the store, news comes of a shark attack just a few towns away from Elm Hills.
Uncle Jerry immediately scoffs at the story. He is under the impression that sharks will not attack people. He even goes as far to say he would be willing to dive into the same water where the attack occurred.
An older customer in the store, Captain Wilson, tells a different story. He is a former whaling captain and has seen shark attacks, which is described by the author in great detail.
Without ruining too much of the endingat least the parts which arent obvious because of the titlethe actual shark attack is somewhat surprising. And even reading about it nearly one hundred years after it happened, its still amazing that such an attack occurred where it did.
I think this book will be attractive to boys because there is a good deal of gore described when the attacks occur. Uncle Jerry is a former baseball player and shares a few interesting anecdotes. And the fifteen or so samples of art work throughout the novel are very eye catching. There is also the hint of an age-appropriate love story involving Chet and a girl from his neighborhood named Minnie.
The back of the book offers about ten facts about sharks and shark attacks that I found interesting and would think younger readers would as well.
Even though this is a middle-grade title, I highly recommended it to my students, who are struggling readers in the eighth grade. Several have taken out the book and read it in less than a day. They seemed to have really enjoyed it.
The author, Lauren Tarshis, also has books entitled, I SURVIVED THE SINKING OF THE TITANIC, 1912; I SURVIVED THE BOMBING OF PEARL HARBOR, 1942; and I SURVIVED HURRICANE KATRINA, 2005. I will read all three eventually.