Swimming with Sharks

Swimming with Sharks

by Twig C. George, Yong Chen
     
 

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No TV, no friends, and a grandfather struggling with retirement from marine biology—Sarah's sure her stay in the Florida Keys will be the most boring summer of her life.

That is, until she begins to take notice of the unusual-looking fish that visits her grandparents' dock every day. When Sarah discovers she's befriended a baby lemon shark, her fascination

Overview

No TV, no friends, and a grandfather struggling with retirement from marine biology—Sarah's sure her stay in the Florida Keys will be the most boring summer of her life.

That is, until she begins to take notice of the unusual-looking fish that visits her grandparents' dock every day. When Sarah discovers she's befriended a baby lemon shark, her fascination with sharks fakes roof. Before long, Sarah and her grandfather are inseparable as they spend hours tracking, observing, and swimming with sharks.

The Florida summer heats up quickly with heart-pounding shark encounters and the daring pursuit of two shark-fin poachers. This is a shark-filled summer Sarah and her grandfather won't soon forget.No TV, no friends, and a grandfather struggling with retirementSarah was sure her stay in the Florida Keys would be the most boring summer of her ten-year-old life. That is, until she befriends a baby lemon shark who swims near their dock. Before long, Sarah and her grandfather are inseparable as they spend hours tracking and observing sharks. Sarahs Florida summer heats up quickly with heart-pounding shark encounters and the daring pursuit of two shark-fin poachers.

Author Biography: Twig C. George was inspired to write Swimming with Sharks after she spent time studying and swimming with sharks in the Bahamas. She is also the author of A Dolphin Named Bob, illustrated by Christine Herman Merrill. She lives in Maryland.

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 3-6-Ten-year-old Sarah Marshall expects to be totally bored by spending the summer with her grandparents in the Florida Keys until she discovers a baby lemon shark with the other fish she feeds from the dock every day. Using her snorkel, she follows it to its nursery in the shelter of a mangrove swamp. Her interest leads her grandfather, a retired marine biologist, to take her to see sharks in deeper waters. Eventually, she joins him in swimming with grown sharks and tracking them. Together, they pursue fishermen who are illegally capturing and killing sharks to remove their fins, which are highly prized for soup. The message is unmistakable, but youngsters will be so captivated by the snorkeling adventures that they are unlikely to mind the increasingly didactic tone of the book or the wooden characters. Although some of the scenes are a bit unrealistic, the author presents a great deal of information about shark behavior, varieties, and habitats that dispels popular stereotypes. Simple black-and-white illustrations help readers visualize Sarah's activities as well as the underwater life she so admires. A list of groups to contact for further information about these fish and places to see them are appended.-Kathleen Isaacs, Edmund Burke School, Washington, DC Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780060277581
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
06/01/1999
Series:
Trophy Chapter Book Series
Pages:
128
Product dimensions:
5.37(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.63(d)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Sarah Marshall was hot, bored and angry.

"I just wish Mom had asked me what I wanted to do this summer!" Sarah grumbled to a big, brown pelican who sat near her on the old dock. "I could be having fun with all my friends at camp." She paused, and the pelican turned his head as if he were waiting for her to continue. Despite herself Sarah had to laugh at the bird's knowing expression.

"Oh, great," she said in mock desperation. "Now I'm talking to a pelican. Well, at least you listen to me!"Sarah stared out at the islands that seemed to stretch endlessly across Florida Bay. Then she turned back to the pelican and mimicked her mother's voice. "It's only one summer, dear. Granddad hasn't been the same since his retirement. He's not eating well and seems so down. I know that having a nice young person like you around will help cheer him up." And so, without further discussion, Sarah's mother had arranged for her to spend the summer with her grandparents.

Scanning the popcorn-shaped clouds building along the horizon, Sarah watched a ribbon of snowy egrets skim over the trees. Normally she would have enjoyed these sights'anybody would. But Sarah felt trapped. The beautiful view, the glittering sea were just a nice setting for a terrible vacation.

She glanced around her. Her grandparents' house was very different from the new vacation homes she had passed on the drive down from Miami. It was a simple one-story house built on stilts. The house was neat but it had a "repaired" look. Even the dock was crooked and weathered.

Sarah's grandparents got by with very few modern appliances. Dr. Joseph Santos had grown up during the GreatDepression and had not forgotten what it was like to be poor. He rarely spent money on anything that was not absolutely necessary. They didn't even have a television! She could not imagine living here for six weeks, much less fifty years.

With a scowl Sarah dove off the dock into the eighty-degree water. It was warm but still cool enough to be refreshing. A little less grumpy after her swim, Sarah lay down on the dock. Her dark hair curled quickly as it dried in the sun. She watched the water drip off her fingers and make dark spots on the parched wood.

Sarah's grandfather stood at the other end of the sun-bleached dock expertly cleaning some fish. Dr. Santos was a retired marine biologist who had specialized in the study of sharks. It was a job that had been so much a part of him that he had never thought of it as work. It was who he was and what he did. Since retirement last year he had felt a little bored and uncertain. These were not feelings he was used to or liked. He missed his students and his work.

Dr. Santos loved his family and his grandchildren. Over the years, however, he and his wife, Edie, had grown used to their childless, orderly life. Sarah's arrival was proving to be much more of a challenge than he had expected. The day she arrived, she made it clear that she was not happy about staying with them for the summer. She wouldn't talk about school and gave only the simplest answers when he asked about her parents. Studying, catching, even swimming with sharks seemed like much easier tasks to him than befriending his ten-year-old granddaughter.

He finished scaling the last of the fish and threw a handful of scraps to the pelican. The pelican gobbled them up and waddled over for more. He tossed the pelican a few more pieces of fish. Then he shooed the big bird away and walked toward Sarah.

Sarah sat up, crossed her ankles and swung her legs back and forth. She wrinkled her rounded nose, which was already turning slightly red under her golden tan. One of the few things her grandfather had learned from Sarah this week was that she hated her nose. He felt it gave her a special character all her own. Spunky kid, he thought proudly. Smart, too. They would manage somehow.

He dropped the remaining fish scraps in the water. Fish appeared instantly.

"Atta girl!" he cheered, kneeling down to see something in the water. Sarah turned and gazed in the direction her grandfather was pointing.

"Watch that little damselfish go after that yellowtail!" Her grandfather watched fish like other grandfathers watched football games.

Sarah had to smile at her grandfather's enthusiasm. The fierce damselfish was one of his favorites. Sarah reluctantly moved so she could see the bright yellow warrior clearly.

"Remember these?" her grandfather asked, pointing out a swarm of small fish feeding on the scraps he had thrown them.

"French grunts, mangrove snappers and . . ." Sarah paused, trying to remember the name of the little black-and-white striped fish. "I know, sergeant majors!"

"Good," her grandfather said, as if she were a student he was testing.

Sarah knew these fish well. Ever since she was little, her grandfather had told her their names over and over when she came to visit. She sensed it was his way of showing he cared for her, so she had learned them. Her grandfather's head ducked and weaved as he followed the scene below. Fish were his life. Her smile faded. They weren't hers, however.

No TV, no friends, nothing but fish, Sarah thought hopelessly. She took a deep breath and prepared herself for the most boring summer of her life.

Meet the Author

Twig C. George was inspired to write Swimming with Sharks after she spent time studying and swimming with sharks in the Bahamas. She is also the author of A Dolphin Named Bob, illustrated by Christine Herman Merrill. She lives in Maryland.

Yong Chen is the illustrator of Starfish Summer by Ona Gritz-Gilbert and Miz Fannie Mae's Fine New Easter Hat by Melissa Milich. He also teaches watercolor and portrait painting at the Massachusetts College of Art. He lives in New Hampshire.

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