Mother of sharks

Melissa Cristina Márquez

Book - 2023

At la Playita del Condado in Puerto Rico, Meli meets a crab, Jaiba, who takes her on a dreamlike underwater adventure, teaches her about the importance of shark conservation, and reveals Meli's ultimate destiny--to become the Mother of Sharks.

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Coming Soon
Animal fiction
Picture books
New York : Penguin Workshop 2023.
Physical Description
pages cm
Ages 5-8.
Main Author
Melissa Cristina Márquez (author)
Other Authors
Devin Elle Kurtz (illustrator)
Review by Booklist Review

Márquez, a Latina marine biologist, weaves autobiographical elements into a fantasy narrative in this picture book for children interested in STEM, particularly those underrepresented in those fields. Before heading home from La Playita del Condado, a beach in Puerto Rico, young Meli explores a tidal pool, where she meets Jaiba, a talking hermit crab. Jaiba takes Meli on an underwater tour, and she discovers a mako shark trapped in a net. After releasing the shark, Meli becomes interested in all kinds of sharks. Time then speeds up, allowing her to visit a library with shark books, hear a female shark researcher, and meet this same researcher, deemed the "Mother of Sharks," on a field expedition. In this last encounter, Meli learns that she has met her future scientist self. Luminous illustrations that capture both the warm sunlight and turquoise waters add a vivid backdrop to the magical story, which also incorporates Spanish phrases. Endpapers of labeled sharks, informative back matter, and an encouraging letter from the author wrap up this entertaining and inspirational tale.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission. Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

A Latinx child takes a step toward a STEM career as a shark scientist in this empowering read from marine biologist Márquez (the Wild Survival series). After a day spent playing at Puerto Rico's Playita Del Condado, Meli begs her mami for just five more minutes, during which a tidal-pool encounter with talking hermit crab Jaiba results in an undersea adventure. Crabs and sea stars scuttle "along ancient sandy highways" around a vibrant coral reef, but all is not right: rising temperatures caused by climate change have bleached parts of the reef, and a mako shark is caught in a net nearby. Meli, portrayed with brown skin, wants to learn more about sharks, but indicates that she's never seen a shark scientist who looks like her. Traversing space and time, Jaiba takes Meli to various locations that would help her move into the field, including to see the "Mother of Sharks," an accomplished shark scientist who, it is soon revealed, is Meli herself. Artist Kurtz (Windows to Worlds, for adults) dapples the underwater landscape with plentiful light, while Márquez combines magical and real-world components in this engaging read that champions marine conservation efforts and the power of representation. Ages 5--8. Author's agent: Alexandra Weiss, Azantian Literary. Illustrator's agent: Seth Fishman, Gernert Co. (May)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved Review by Kirkus Book Review

A Latine ocean enthusiast gets the surprise of a lifetime in this tale from Márquez, a Puerto Rican shark scientist committed to making STEM fields more inclusive. As the sun sets on the beautiful Playita del Condado, Puerto Rico, Meli promises her mami that she'll be ready to leave in just five minutes. She's shocked when a hermit crab suddenly speaks to her. As Meli and her new friend, Jaiba, travel underwater and witness the effects of humans' damaging impacts on the ecosystem, her interest in sharks and ocean conservation is amplified. Meli, who is brown-skinned with curly brown hair, has many questions, but when Jaiba suggests she become a scientist, she quietly muses that she hasn't seen any who look like her. Then she and Jaiba find themselves in the audience of a lecture being delivered by a real-life scientist who resembles her. Meli observes the scientist, referred to as the Mother of Sharks, conducting research--and soon realizes that she and the scientist are one and the same. In a flash, she's back on the beach and her five minutes are up, but her passion for science has been ignited. Readers will soak up the vividly illustrated underwater scenes alongside the important message to follow their passions; children from marginalized backgrounds will be especially heartened by Márquez's encouraging tale. Meli and Jaiba speak English, though there's some unitalicized Spanish throughout. (This book was reviewed digitally.) A magical story for budding scientists. (author's note, glossary, resources, Spanish translations) (Picture book. 5-8) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.