I received a review copy from the publisher. No other compensation was received.
When I was a child, sharks were bad, scary monsters that we should fear. We watched Jaws I, II, and III and, in general, it seemed that their deaths were not something for us to mourn. I’ve grown up and have learned that no, they’re not the scary monsters the movies (or well-meaning, but understandably overprotective parents) have portrayed them as.
But it wasn’t until I sat down and read Please Be Nice to Sharks to my own children that I was devastated to learn that every minute 200 sharks are killed. Every minute. That comes to about 100 million sharks a year are killed by humans. And sharks kill a whopping FIVE people a year and those deaths are done on accident. Ours are on purpose about 70% of the time. It made me sick to my stomach to learn this — I couldn’t believe this was true.
The numbers were too high for either of my sons to really grasp — but they were able to get that people are killing A LOT of sharks and that they’re almost all gone. I started doing research because I couldn’t/strongly didnt’t want to believe this book was true, but Matt Weiss is absolutely right.
Matt Weiss gets a lot of other things right in Please Be Nice to Sharks. While it has an introduction that is heavier and more devastating than the ending of Old Yeller — the rest of the book is very upbeat, fun, interesting, and informative. Fifteen different types of sharks (technically fourteen sharks and one manta ray) are introduced to us from a friendly, first-person or er, um, first-shark perspective. They introduce themselves in distinct voices and perspectives, talk about various interesting characteristics they have, and why they really are worth being nice to. After each and every shark my eldest son would say without fail, “Oh, I’ll definitely be nice to that shark!” The book ends with some helpful tips that we can follow to do what we can to save sharks. The message and delivery of how important it is for us to think about sharks in a different way and do what we can is loud and clear — and very inspiring.
The photography is clear, beautiful, and intriguing. Paired with the friendly and personable text, the photography makes you feel a personal connection with each one of these sharks and squarely places you on the side of Team Shark. It’s a well-done and well-thought out book that has solidly changed any misgivings I’ve had about sharks and has my eldest feeling personally protective of each shark out there that’s left.
The first few paragraphs were pretty hard to get through (emotionally — due to the facts) and so I wasn’t sure what this was going to be like to read with my boys. But it was a wonderful experience and I loved how both my boys were asking questions, pledging their protection, and ooohing and ahhing over each image.
I tried to think of another way to open the book, but there’s not really any other way to tell people what’s really going on in a more palatable way. How do you gently put that 100 million sharks are being killed every year and that, if we don’t do something significant, they’ll go extinct and our oceans will, basically, collapse? Matt Weiss has done it about as skillfully and deftly as one can — the strong and eye-opening introduction, the beautiful photography, and the friendly bits about each shark create a whole experience that appeals to hearts and minds of all ages.
I hope you get a chance to read this book. It’s a powerful and interesting way to get to know, understand, and feel connected to sharks all around the world.
Where to Get it:
- [Affiliate Link]: Amazon.com
- [Independent Bookstore]: Indiebound.org
- [Library]: Worldcat.org — ask your library to order it.
Author and Illustrator Websites:
More Reviews of Please Be Nice to Sharks:
Where Obtained: I received a review copy from the publisher. No other compensation was received. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
FTC Disclosures: Some of the links in the post above are Amazon affiliate links and others are IndieBound affiliate links. If you click on the link and purchase something, I will receive an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you. Which goes to fund my family’s picture book habit. It’s a vicious cycle, but we manage. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”