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Monday, 6 March 2017

Shark in the Park!

Author and Illustrator: Nick Sharratt
Publisher: First published 2000 by Reed Educational and Professional Publishing Ltd, featured edition published by Picture Corgi, 2007

I've long thought this book is the perfect five minute light relief for any nursery class, but today this book managed to captivate two seven year olds (Alf and his mate), a tired five year old, poorly three year old and distracted one year old, at a very busy (late) World Book Day event. Talk about working hard! 

It's a very short book, with straightforward (and very effective) structure; an introduction, three 'sightings' and a funny 'outro'. The formulaic action rhyme which charts young boy, Timothy's, moves as he tracks a shark in the park with his new telescope, gets preschoolers moving ( looking up, looking down, looking all around). This is accompanied by an opportunity for a shout, in that Timothy spies a shark in his telescope viewfinder and sets about alerting people, 'there's a shark in the park!' 

The story is fun and well humoured. Timothy spies a shark in the circular viewfinder, this is a cut-away in the page; when the page turns over the black shark fin is revealed to be part of the anatomy of a cat ( its ear), a crow ( its wing) and my favourite, Timothy's dad's quiff. The reveal is amusing, unexpected, and doesn't tire. 

The book illustrations are incredibly bright, well defined and very characteristic of Sharratt. There's plenty to capture the interest of toddlers here, with the inclusion of kites flying in the distance, worms and snails popping up, lots to spot and amuse beyoung the foreground pictures. 

There's a real economy with words in this book, simple four line rhymes mainly, with plenty of dramatic breathe-inhaling exclamations. Speech bubbles are used to bring in the voice of the wrongly 'accused' sharks. There's a fun, cheekiness about the main character, as he smiles and giggles about his mistakes. 

All in all, a fantastic five minute toddler fix, but also a chirpy little book that makes the whole family smile. 

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