Top 10 Deadliest Sharks, by Joe Brusha
Published by Silver Dragon
I grew up in Ohio, in the late 1970s and 1980s. Nowhere near a beach. But very near a number of movie theatres that were showing the popular Jaws movies of the time. Today, at age thirty-five, I live in Jacksonville, Florida, and my home is about 3 miles from the beach. And although I go to the beach as much as possible, I do NOT ever -- EVER -- get in the water. Why? I am deathly afraid of sharks and, admittedly, irrationally afraid that Jaws -- or some of his good friends -- is most certainly waiting for me to venture on in.
Today, however, is a new day, and I might just venture down to the beach a little later and get into the water. "Why the change of heart?" you may ask. I just finished reading Discovery Channel's new graphic novel Top Ten Deadliest Sharks (2010). And even though the title does contain the words "deadliest sharks" right next to each other, this graphic novel's aim is not to instill fear. It's a nonfiction graphic novel that aims to educate its reader about deadly sharks. In the Introduction, Shark Week expert Andy Dehart explains, "There are over 400 species of sharks and not a single one has humans as part of its diet. Less than 100 attacks happen worldwide each year, and many of these are cases of mistaken identity. Each shark species has very specialized prey items" (p. 7).
Essentially, this well thought-out and much-needed addition to the nonfiction graphic novel world demystifies the irrational fear that some of us may have about sharks, and, in doing so, empowers and educates us to have a more informed understanding of the top ten deadliest sharks. Starting with the Lemon Shark and ending with the deadliest shark of them all, the Bull Shark, readers will learn about each shark's: size, habitat, largest on record, and, perhaps most importantly, their "preferred prey" (which does not include humans!). Little by little, readers walk away more informed and better educated about the top ten deadliest sharks and just what they actually do prefer - and in statistical reality - really eat.
When I finished reading this nonfiction graphic novel, I found myself wishing that my teachers and/or local librarians had had such a text in their collections.
English Language Arts Elements of Story
Plot: Nonfiction learning about Discovery Channel's top ten deadliest sharks
Setting: Various oceans around the world
Major Characters: the Lemon Shark, the Blue Shark, the Hammerhead Shark, the Sand Tiger Shark, the Grey Reef Shark, the Mako Shark, the Oceanic Whitetip Shark, the Tiger Shark, the Great White Shark, the Bull Shark
Themes: Habitat, Preferred Prey, Body Size, Interesting Facts and Stories, Attack Records
Fiction Literary Pairing Suggestions: Jack London's The Call of the Wild, Herman Melville's Moby Dick, Edgar Allan Poe's poem The Raven, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Animal Farm by George Orwell, The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling,
Nonfiction Literary Pairing Suggestions: Hope for Animals and Their World by Jane Goodall, 100 Heartbeats: The Race to Save Earth's Most Endangered Species by Jeff Corwin, Jungle Jack: My Wild Life by Jack Hanna
Some Teaching Recommendations For Fourth - Eighth Grade Teachers and Librarians
Suggested Alignment to the IRA /NCTE Standard(s):*
- standard #s correspond to the numbers used by IRA/NCTE
1. Students read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.
2. Students read a wide range of literature from many periods in many genres to build an understanding of the many dimensions (e.g., philosophical, ethical, aesthetic) of human experience.
3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate and appreciate texts.
Recommended Grade Levels: 4 - 8
Suggested Lesson Plan:
Because this nonfiction graphic novel pairs so well with both nonfiction and fiction texts, I recommend that teachers pursue one of two different reading strategies. Teachers can use a Venn diagram graphic organizer for both reading strategies.
Reading Strategy 1: Top Ten Deadlist Sharks paired with a fiction text
First, students will list the unique characteristics of The Top Ten Deadliest Sharks in the independent area of the circle on the left. Similarly, in the independent area of the circle on the right, students will list the unique characteristics of the fictional text. In the overlapping area between the two circles, students will list the similarities between the two texts.
Reading Strategy 2: Top Ten Deadliest Sharks paired with another nonfiction text
First, students will list the unique characteristics of The Top Ten Deadliest Sharks in the independent area of the circle on the left. Similarly, in the independent area of the circle on the right, students will list the unique characteristics of the other nonfiction text. In the overlapping area between the two circles, students will list the similarities between the two texts.
Katie Monnin, PhD, is an assistant professor of literacy at the University of North Florida and author of Teaching Graphic Novels: Practical Strategies for the Secondary ELA Classroom (2010) from Maupin House. To learn more about Teaching Graphic Novels or Katie Monnin, please go to this link: http://www.maupinhouse.com/monnin.php.