Friday, July 24, 2020

The Bull Shark (Dragged From Under #1)

Monninger, Joseph. The Bull Shark (Dragged From Under #1)
Expected publication: July 21st 2020 by Scholastic Inc.
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Barn Whimbril has moved to Florida with his mother after the death of his father in the military, so that they can be near her sister. He is very interested in sharks, and has read extensively on the topic. He also gets alerts on his phone when there are shark attacks. Unfortunately, there is an attack in a nearby canal that results in the death of a teenager. Barn and his friends Finn and Margaret start to investigate why sharks might be attracted to that particular stretch of the canal, and befriend a resident, Grandpa Lemon, who lives nearby. The neighbors in the area are in favor of using dynamite or possibly electric shock to take care of the sharks, even if it is illegal, so Barn wants to make sure that the sharks are not harmed. He has an ally in Jessup Sabine, a scientist who is looking into the matter as well. Sabine is impressed with Barn's hypotheses, and the two do some investigating. Barn's biggest break through is finding out that a local restaurant has employees that dump food scraps into the canal for fun, and the fact that there are solar panels nearby also attract the sharks. Will Barn be able to prove that this is the reason that sharks are entering the canal before another tragedy befalls the area?
Strengths: I'm always a fan of children with particular interests, and judging from the popularity of the nonfiction books in my library, sharks are a winner. Barn's methods of investigating and using his knowledge are good to see, and sharing this interest with his friends is even better. Jessup was an interesting character, and his brief flirtation with Barn's mother was a nice touch. One of my favorite parts of this book was that the characters biked back and forth short distances to the location; it's good to see middle grade characters being given some freedom, even in a dangerous place like Florida. This will probably be a big seller in Scholastic book fairs.
Weaknesses: Barn Whimbril is perhaps the least attractive name I have ever seen in middle grade literature. Also, Florida does not sound like a good place to live, especially if you've read any Watt Key or thought at all about the logistics of the Florida Keys.
What I really think: This is available in prebind from Follett, so I will purchase this and look forward to the sequels.
Ms. Yingling

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