As a child of the 1980s, the decade was a magical era for movies. We had a front seat to the birth of the blockbuster movie. This was when going to the movies was an actual event. It meant that movies not only had star power but also had to be good.
One of those movies was the epic Jaws which began to help usher in the shift to blockbusters with its release in 1975. The movie scared many of the kids my age from ever going to the beach. I was surprised to find out years later that it was based on the Shark attacks that took place in New Jersey at the beginning of the 20th century. In Lauren Tarshis I Survived series, she looks to see how one would live to tell the tale. In I Survived the Shark Attacks of 1916 we meet one such protagonist who never faced death until.
We’re taken to July 03, 1916, where we meet Chet Roscow, who lives with his uncle in Elm Hills, a small New Jersey town. He is helping his Uncle Jerry at the local diner, and he has found some friends while working there, Sid, Dewey and Monty, who comes into diner, gushing about the news of a shark attack nearby, spinning almost farfetched tales of how gruesome the sea creatures were. Eventually, the news of shark attacks would end up in the newspapers, leaving Uncle Jerry to be less skeptical. One day, as Chet waited for his friends to finish work at the town tile factory, he decides to go swimming at the local lake by himself, when something becomes instantly awry, and he suddenly a shark fin approaching fast in his direction, causing him to leap onto to the grass, barely escaping the jaws of the shark, as it thrashes about on the shore. Chet would barely get his clothes on, and would run the rest of the way home. He would try to tell the adults in town what he saw, but most of them laughed him off except for Captain Wilson, who faced a shark in his seafaring days, as Captain Wilson urges Chet to warn his friends. Unfortunately, his friends did not believe, until Sid felt something different in the water, and Chet saw the shark fin sticking above it, which causes him to dive into the lake to save his friend, as both barely make it out alive and the shark biting a good chunk of Chet’s leg. By book’s end, Chet and his friends become closer because of the events of that day.
Overall, I Survived the Shark Attacks of 1916 is an exciting story that endears this true life event. The story by Tarshis is gripping. The art by Haus Studio is dazzling. Altogether, a great book that melds slice of life with history.
Story: Lauren Tarshis Art: Haus Studio
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy