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Shark Lady

Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist

Jess Keating, Illustrated by Marta Álvarez Miguéns
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
48 pp.
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The sight of a dorsal fin slicing through the water might strike fear into your heart, but Eugenie Clark saw things differently. Shark Lady tells the story of this pioneering marine biologist who took assumptions about sharks—and about whether women belong in science—and blew them out of the water.

Captivated by sharks since a childhood aquarium visit in 1931, Clark set out to prove that they were not “mindless monsters” to be feared and reviled, but fascinating, intelligent, even trainable creatures worthy of study and conservation. The book follows the lifelong passion that kept her diving—first into the shallows as a kid at the beach, then into books as a student, and ultimately into the open ocean as a researcher, where she spotted sharks resting in caves (busting the popular idea that they must keep moving to stay alive) and hitched a ride on the back of a whale shark, among other discoveries and adventures.

The author, herself a zoologist, skillfully delivers this biography for a young audience, and the sea creatures that Clark meets along the way are illustrated with a peculiar mixture of charm and fidelity that makes it easy to imagine kids turning to them again and again and begging for a trip to the aquarium. Clark’s perseverance in the face of shark skeptics and those who doubted her brains and bravery offers an encouraging message about grit, courage, and zeal, while age-appropriately conveying the extra burden that women carry of proving themselves in male-dominated spheres. Clark’s remarkable life, laid out in more detail in a timeline at the end of the book, might spark the hunger for discovery in a new generation.