Featured Books: Click on a title, and learn about the story behind the book!

A "picture-book equivalent of watching a nature documentary."--School Library Journal
"Budding arachnologists will find this an enlightening introduction."--Kirkus
"A coolly fascinating, nostalgic glimpse into life as it was over a century ago." --Kirkus Reviews
"A must-have addition to science collections." --BOOKLIST
"intelligent..eye-catching..readable lodestone for researchers." Starred review, School Library Journal
Paperback--the most unusual dinosaur book ever published!
The most comprehensive children's book about these amazing insects! "Smoothly written, beautifully illustrated"--School Library Journal
"An amazing nonfiction children's book"--Midwest Book Review
"A especial treat for young dragon lovers." --Midwest Book Review
"Words and stirring pictures focus on the role of the powerful black man on the thrilling journey...he is hailed as a national hero." -- BOOKLIST
"Pringle's succinct text provides an engaging overview of penguin life...even penguin fans will find something new." -- BOOKLIST
"Even readers fearful of snakes may find the subject a little less strange, a little more wonderful." -- Booklist
"Presented with respect for the subject and for the audience, this is one of the best of the many bat books, especially for a somewhat younger audience." --Booklist
"The lucid text and elegant illustrations march in perfect step, creating an attractive fusing of art and information." --School Library Journal
"An exemplary nature-study book--accurate, explicit, and satisfyingly complete." School Library Journal
"Full of adventure and excitement, this book contains a wonderful mix of intriguing stories and historical facts."
--Childhood Education
"A poetic text...A wonderful choice to share with children before a summer vacation or to use as an introduction to an ecology unit." --School Library Journal
"A superb, well-researched book that finds extraordinary science in the everyday life of a butterfly."
--Kirkus Reviews
Picture Book Fiction
"A likable book that's sure to start kids romping, and maybe their parents, too."--Kirkus

Sharks! Strange and Wonderful


The Story Behind the Book

Basic advice to writers: create an enticing beginning. The lead, as it is called, is the writer's opportunity to catch the reader's interest so he or she wants to keep reading. So, when the subject is sharks, it is mighty tempting to start with a dramatic scene--of a big dorsal fin cutting through the water, of a gaping mouth with many sharp teeth--a scene that in many minds evokes some musical notes from the film Jaws.

I resisted that temptation when I wrote the lead of Sharks! Strange and Wonderful. I did so for two reasons. First, sharks are so diverse and fascinating, it is misleading to concentrate on the few species that rarely harm people. Second, sharks deserve and need a de-emphasis on their image as people-eaters. Peter Benchley, who gained fame and wealth as a result of the novel Jaws and the films that followed, has expressed regret about his contribution to public attitudes about sharks. In 1998 Benchley wrote, "I couldn't possibly write Jaws today. We know so much more about sharks--and just as important, about our position as the single most careless, voracious, omnivorous destroyer of life on earth--that the notion of demonizing a fish strikes me as insane."

Although the book's jacket shows a mako shark with some nasty-looking teeth, readers soon learn about the great variety of sharks in the seas--not just makos and tigers, but angels, wobbegongs, and cookiecutters! They learn something about the importance of sharks in ocean ecology and the terrible killing of sharks now underway.

Aside from seeing reviews of this book, I will never know what effect it has on readers. But, I'm a hopeful person, and I imagine kids across the continent agreeing with me: Once you get to know them, sharks are wonderful!