Sharks are an unusual central character for an anthropomorphic fantasy/adventure novel. Initially I was thinking that this a book only for boys, but given the unexpected success of the shark characters in movies such as “Finding Nemo” and “Shark Tale,” this might be a book equally appreciated by girls. On the other hand, girls used to the fantasy genre may want to give this book a go. It is suited to a literature circles group, if you want to deliver it to boys only, but I would argue that it would have wide enough appeal to be a class text. It might hook readers who aren’t interested in reading if they are interested in the sea or sea creatures. High level grade 3’s right up to Grade 6’s would be the ideal levels for the book, as in my experience as a Year 7 teacher, the style of humour would alienate Year 7’s.
Gray is a reef shark and one misjudged foray out into the ‘Big Blue’ has cost him everything. Exiled from his beautiful, warm home Coral Shiver reef, Gray, alongside trusted companion Barkley the dogfish, head off and quickly make friends with other ‘rogue’ sharks, forming a group they call Rogue Shiver. Gray and Barkley discover that their home has been destroyed by rampaging bull sharks, and they are both determined to find out where their families have gone. They are recruited by the tough guys of the Big Blue, Goblin and his Goblin Shiver to help fight against Razor Shiver. Gray soon finds that he loves it in their new home, wide-eyed at all the stories and the fighting training. Some of Goblin Shiver can be openly hostile which causes Barkley to run away. He overhears a conversation between two of the Shiver sharks which implies that there is a conspiracy to keep Gray there and that they are allied with the bull sharks. All of the old Rogue Shiver permanently leaves, except Gray who chooses to stay. Rogue Shiver settle back at their sunken ‘landshark’ ship for a short time before some members of Goblin Shiver trick them into meeting them, and are subsequently captured. Striiker had refused to go to the meeting, so snuck around until he discovered where they were kept. He then confronted Gray, placing the blame on him. Gray obviously had no idea of the treachery and immediately abandoned his position to help Striiker free their shivermates. The conspiracy is unveiled and Rogue Shiver unites to help foil the plan of the sharks responsible.
The humour reflects how real twelve-year-olds would jibe each other. My favourite- in response to being teased for being larger than everyone else, Gray says “I’m not fat, I’m big cartilaged!” The ease of prose and style of writing is simple enough for Grade 3’s but one or two of the words chosen are surprisingly challenging like “vehemently.”