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The Shark Whisperer (Tristan Hunt and the Sea Guardians)

Review

The Shark Whisperer (Tristan Hunt and the Sea Guardians)

written by Ellen Prager, illustrated by Antonio Caparo
When 12-year-old Tristan Hunt falls into the shark tank at the local aquarium, he expects to be torn to pieces. He does not expect to feel a sudden and inexplicable connection with the sharks --- a connection that obviously saved his life. So when an invitation arrives to spend the summer at a marine camp in the Florida Keys, Tristan talks his parents into sending him.
 
Tristan is a likable hero who falls into leadership and excels, and the other characters shine with their own unique personalities and challenges.
 
The camp seems ordinary at first, but quickly, Tristan and his new friends Hugh and Sam learn that this camp is designed for adolescents who have special abilities in the ocean. Some campers can swim as fast as dolphins, camouflage themselves like octopi, communicate with sea creatures, or even echolocate, and they use the skills to protect sea life around the Florida Keys and the nearby Bahamas. The camp keeps these abilities secret to protect the campers from people who would want to use the powers for destructive purposes. As Tristan and the other new campers learn how to use and control their abilities, they enter a desperate effort to rescue sea creatures and other sea guardians. But will their skills be enough to stand against a selfish billionaire’s reef-destroying treasure hunt?
 
THE SHARK WHISPERER opens a fun new middle-grade series focused on marine ecology and protecting the environment. Tristan is a likable hero who falls into leadership and excels, and the other characters shine with their own unique personalities and challenges. Smart but awkward Hugh learns to be more sure of himself, and kindhearted Sam struggles to reconcile her newfound purpose with her family’s traditional business. The characters learn about the ocean and about how to work as a team while they fight against their environment-destroying enemy; the book strikes an excellent balance between plot, character development and science.
 
If anything fell flat, it was the sometimes awkward dialogue and showing what is real science and what is not. The animal behavior in particular did not always seem real, and often seemed improbably humanlike.  Still, Ellen Prager’s passion for marine science makes the subject interesting and cool --- I had never even heard of ooids before, for instance, and they’re so amazing! The science never overpowered the plot, either, which means this book will even appeal to readers who don’t think they are interested in science. Hopefully, THE SHARK WHISPERER will inspire readers to learn more about the ocean!

Reviewed by Quinn Colter on May 13, 2014

The Shark Whisperer (Tristan Hunt and the Sea Guardians)
written by Ellen Prager, illustrated by Antonio Caparo

  • Publication Date: May 1, 2014
  • Genres: Fantasy, Youth Fiction
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Scarletta Junior Readers
  • ISBN-10: 1938063449
  • ISBN-13: 9781938063442