Sunday 2 September 2012

Animal Rescue #4: Shark Attack

Shark Attack (Animal Rescue) Shark Attack (Animal Rescue) by Jackie French, illustrated by Terry Whidborne (Scholastic Press)
PB RRP $9.99
ISBN 978-1-74283-384-2
Reviewed by Jenny Heslop

Leo and Mozz are taking their jet, SkyTiger, out for a ride inside a volcano when they get an emergency call from Gran. An old mining dam has collapsed in a storm and a wall of toxic mud is heading towards the breeding grounds of the endangered Grey Nurse sharks.

It is up to Leo and Mozz to get there before the mud to warn the sharks to swim to safety. There are a few obstacles in the way. Firstly, the savage storm which wrecked the dam, is between them and the sharks and may prove to be a test for the SkyTiger (which Mozz invented in Year 3 and built out of recycled plastic bottles). Secondly, saving the sharks means going underwater and Leo is afraid of the water and cannot swim. Then thirdly, although he is fluent in all animal languages, Leo doesn’t speak Shark, or fish for that matter. This rescue looks a little more complicated than the previous ones.

Shark Attack is a great adventure. Mozz has a scientific brain and is a genius inventor. She has made Leo a watch which can do everything from homework to putting new laces into Leo’s sneakers whenever he needs them. Leo has the enviable ability to speak to all animals and he has the cutest, coolest pet - a guinea pig named Alan Nesbit Kirk who is keen to join in on all the adventures. The banter between guinea pig and Leo is especially fun.

Shark Attack is well written. It is light hearted and enjoyable, yet beyond the fanciful plot, inventive gadgets and dramatic chapter headings lurk the more serious undercurrents of animal conservation, pollution damage, responsibility and personal growth which give the book solidity.

Animal Rescue is a fabulous adventure series for middle grade readers. The stories are all centred on rescuing endangered animals and would appeal to both boys and girls. All written by Jackie French, a popular and prolific children’s writer, the other titles so far are Elephant Alert (Animal Rescue)Gorilla Grab (Animal Rescue) and Tiger Tangle (Animal Rescue).

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