Booktalk for SUPER SHARK ENCYCLOPEDIA by Derek Harvey

super shark

Is the whale shark a whale or a shark?

The whale shark is the world’s largest living shark. It can be as long as one-and-a-half school buses end-to-end, and its mouth is five feet wide. It also has 4000 little teeth—but it’s not going to eat you. This shark prefers plankton, small fish, and squid. An entire school of fish goes down in one gulp!

[Show pages 58-61.]

Genre: nonfiction / science

Grades 3-8.

Anna’s take on it:

This was one of my favorite books to booktalk this spring. I save it for the middle of my presentation and bring it out when the class’s attention is starting to wander. The cover definitely catches their eye, and then I’ll have them weigh in on whether they think a whale shark is a whale or a shark. “It’s a shark!” “A whale!” “A swale?” “Neither.” “Both.” I usually get a mix of responses, but in one school, both classes gave an immediate and 100% vote for shark. Correct. It turns out the school had a presentation from the Oregon Coast Aquarium the week before—and the students clearly learned something.

The whale shark is big. I see the students trying to grasp how very big it is. When I say the mouth is five feet wide, sometimes I hear, “That’s taller than I am!” Often someone in the class will bring up the megalodon—I added “largest living shark” to my booktalk, but we still usually need to talk about the megalodon being extinct.

When kids come up to look at the books after my presentation, a group always clusters around this one, exclaiming over the incredible photos. In one 6th grade class that had been otherwise very reserved, a boy tucked the book under his arm and told me, jokingly, “You’ll never see it again.”

It’s hard to go wrong with sharks, and the quality of the photos and breadth of information—way more than just sharks here—makes The Super Shark Encyclopedia and Other Creatures of the Deep an excellent nonfiction booktalk title.