In honor of Shark Week, I put together a list of picture books featuring sharks. Most of these are suitable for preschool storytime (in fact, I liked some of them so much, I did a shark-themed storytime earlier this week), but some of the longer ones would be better for older kids. I have listed these roughly in order from shorter to longer.
Shark in the Park! by Nick Sharratt, February 2007, Corgi Books. 17 pages. Ages 3-7.
Young Timothy has a new telescope and is trying it out at the park. As he looks through it, he spies a shark! Oh, wait, it's just a black cat's ear. He looks again, now he really sees a shark! Oops, it's just a bird. This continues until Timothy's dad takes him home. So there never was a shark in the park. Or was there?
This is a great interactive book that keeps kids guessing. Cut-outs on each page reveal a portion of an image that looks like a shark fin, then when the page is turned the truth is revealed. Just when you think there is never going to be a shark, the ending suggests otherwise. Short enough that even younger preschoolers can pay attention, and very engaging.
The Monkey Goes Bananas by C. P. Bloom, illustrated by Peter Raymundo, May 2014, Harry N. Abrams. 40 pages. Ages 3-7.
Poor monkey is stranded on a barren island, while a banana tree grows on another island a short distance away. However, a hungry shark lurks in the waters in between. Watch as the monkey tries again and again to get to the bananas, and finally succeeds. Or does he?
With only 1 or 2 words per page, this book relies on the
illustrations and the reader's tone and expression to tell the
story, and is a fun read-aloud. Cute and funny, especially the ending.
Cats Are Cats by Valeri Gorbachev, July 2014, Holiday House. 32 pages. Ages 3-7.
Miss Bell loved cats and one day she adopts a cute little orange kitten she names Tiger because of his stripes. Tiger grows and grows. And grows! As it turns out, Tiger really is a tiger! He is big and makes a mess, but Miss Bell loves him anyway. After all, cats are cats. One day they are walking past a pet store and Miss Bell decides to buy some fish for Tiger to watch since cats love fish. One of the fish grows and grows and grows.... But, fish are fish.
This is a cute little story I came across shelf reading with a humorous ending that the kids might be able to predict. The illustrations are a bit old-fashioned for my taste, but still cute and not too busy.
The Three Little Fish and the Big Bad Shark by Ken Geist, illustrated by Julia Gorton, May 2007, Cartwheel books. 32 pages. Ages 3-8.
In this re-telling of the classic Three Little Pigs story, three little fish build their houses out of seaweed, sand, and an old ship, respectively. When the big, bad shark asks to come in, they reply "Not by the skin of my finny, fin, fin," then he threatens to "crunch and munch and smash" their houses in. Will the three little fish survive?
This is my favorite shark story so far. I love the re-telling of the Three Little Pigs and the bright, colorful illustrations. This would be great for storytime as it can be very interactive with all the repeating lines the kids can join in, and they can try to predict what will happen with each house. It would be interesting to see if they recognize it as being based on The Three Little Pigs.
I'm a Shark by Bob Shea, April 2011, Balzer + Bray. 40 pages. Ages 4-8.
Shark is not afraid of anything, not shots, not scary movies, not even the dark. Other fearsome animals, like dinosaurs and bears, would be afraid of HIM. But, there might just be one little thing Shark is afraid of, even though he doesn't admit it.
I think this book is hilarious and would make for a great read-aloud, especially with older kids who would get all the jokes, particularly the one about the squid inking himself in fear. This book provides great opportunities for using different voices and lots of expression and movements. The illustrations are simple, bold, and bright and look like drawings a kid might have made. This is probably my second favorite shark story.
Nugget & Fang: Friends Forever--or Snack Time? by Tammi Sauer, illustrated by Michael Slack, April 2013, HMH Books for Young Readers. 40 pages. Ages 4-8.
Nugget and Fang are best friends; they do everything together and life is close to perfect. That is, until Nugget goes to school where he is taught that minnows like him can't be friends with big, bad sharks. Poor Fang misses his friend and his misguided attempts to win Nugget over backfire and push Nugget further away. Then one day fishermen catch the school of minnows in a net and Fang uses his sharp teeth to free them, becoming a hero.
This one is a little long at 40 pages and a fair amount of text on some pages, so is better for older kids. I think there is enough action and drama that some younger kids could handle it, but I would only use it with a group I knew well enough to be sure they could sit through it. There are plenty of opportunities for using different voices, expressions, and gestures to help keep the kids engaged. The illustrations are bright and colorful, with beautiful shades of blue and green in the background.
Yummy Yummy! Food For My Tummy! by Sam Lloyd, illustrated by Jack Tickle, March 2009, Tiger Tales. 32 pages. Ages 4-8.
Once there were two monkeys. George lived on one island with a banana tree and Jess lived on another island with a coconut tree. They saw each other and decided they wanted to get together and share their bananas and coconuts. There was just one problem; the ocean between the two islands was filled with hungry sharks, who chanted "Yummy, yummy! Food for my tummy!" every time one of the monkeys tried to find a way across the water. Will George and Jess ever get together?
While this book only has 32 pages, there is quite a bit of text per page, so I would save this for either reading one-on-one, or for older kids for a group read-aloud. The illustrations are bright and colorful and the story has humor and mild drama and kids can join in with the repeating refrain "Yummy, yummy! Food for my tummy!
Gilbert the Great by Jane Clarke, illustrated by Charles Fuge, June 2005, Simon & Schuster. 24 pages. Ages 4-8.
There are several other Gilbert books in addition to this one. In this story, Gilbert copes with the loss of a friend. In Gilbert In Deep, Gilbert and his friend explore the deep see beyond the reef, and in Gilbert the Hero, Gilbert is put in charge of watching his little brother. These books have nice illustrations, but a lot of text on each page, so better for one-on-one or with older kids for a group read-aloud.
Shark Vs. Train by Chris Barton, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld, April, 2010, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. 40 pages. Ages 3-7.
In this wacky book, we have an odd match-up between fish and machine. Shark and train are pitted against each other in several unlikely competitions, such as pie-eating, tightrope sword-fighting, burping, videogame playing, and high diving.
I'm not wild about this book myself, but I know some people love it. I think it would appeal to boys in particular, and to kids old enough to appreciate the inherent absurdity of the competition.
Clark the Shark by Bruce Hale, illustrated by Guy Francis, June, 2013, Harper Collins. 32 pages. Ages 4-8
This is the first in a series featuring both picture books and early readers. In this story, Clark the Shark loves life and is excited about going to school. However, his overly exuberant enthusiasm causes problems with his teachers and fellow students. Can Clark learn how to tone it down and behave in a more school-appropriate way?
This is a great story for helping to teach self-control and being more considerate of how one's behavior can affect other people. Clark definitely reminded me of a couple of little boys I know.
For more picture books about sharks, see my second list for Shark Week 2016 - "10 More Picture Books About Sharks". For non-fiction books to learn about sharks, check your local library in the 597.3's.