Australia’s Amazing Sharks

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Australian Geographic, Australia’s amazing sharks, Australian Geographic, September 2020, 32 pp., RRP $19.25 (hbk), ISBN 9781925847802 

This large (30.5cm w x 23.7 cm h) picture book will attract any young reader fascinated by sharks. With its attention-grabbing cover prominently featuring a great white shark centre-stage, each double-page spread focuses on a particular category of shark or individual species.  

The book is like a field guide to or identification manual of sharks. More than 45 found in Australian waters are profiled, ranging from the world’s largest shark (the whale shark) to one of the smallest (the pigmy shark). Each species is given its common name, scientific name, length, and status with an accompanying paragraph of text.  

Plentiful illustrations are a mix of photographs and paintings. Some of the latter are by Australian Geographic artists but there is no acknowledgement of an individual author. Photos are from a variety of sources and the credits are printed in the gutters of the relevant pages. The size of each species is given to a scale shown by shaded columns, each column representing a metre in width, or the silhouette of a human diver. 

While young readers may be engrossed with the details in this book, they may also be a little disappointed. There are no captions on the photographs, there is no index and no glossary, despite terms such as ‘dentricles’, ‘barbels’ and ‘crustaceans’ being used in the text. And while the text opens with an introduction to the topic, there is no conclusion to wrap it up at the end. 

The appearance of this book is stunning and the subject matter one which intrigues the public, especially when shark attacks make news headlines. With a little more attention to the needs of the target readership, this title would have been completely brilliant. 

Reviewed by Lynne Babbage 

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