________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number 20. . . . January 26, 2018


Shark. (Orca Soundings).

Jeff Ross.
Victoria, BC: Orca, February, 2018.
132 pp., pbk., pdf & epub., $9.95 (pbk.).
ISBN 978 1 4598 1682-4 (pbk.), ISBN 978 1 4598 1683-1 (pdf), ISBN 978 1 4598 1684-8 (epub).

Grades 7 and up / Ages 12 and up.

Review by Ruth McMahon.

***½ /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



I stopped. Something about the house, I couldn’t say what, felt different.

“Hey, hon,” I heard Mom say. “Your brother with you?”

“Yeah, I’m here,” I said, shutting the door behind me.

“Oh, good. Mark, your friend is here.”

Friend? I didn’t have any friends. No one at the school anyway. I stepped into the living room, and there was War sitting on the couch.

“Mark,” Mom said. “Warren said you had plans to meet up?”

War looked different. He’d washed up, cut his hair and trimmed his beard. And he’d swapped out his leather vest and jeans for a respectable pair of gray trousers and a bright blue sweater. He looked like his more successful twin brother.

“Hey, Shark, how are you?”

“Good,” I said. “I don’t remember us making plans.”

“I was telling your mom about that tournament last night. I haven’t been able to get it out of my head. We need a rematch, son.” Something made me shiver, and, again, I didn’t know exactly what. Something just seemed different. Or maybe it was just that I was waiting for Mom to flip out on me because I hadn’t told her about the tournament.


Mark, aka Shark, (a nickname one would think he got for his pool playing abilities, but it actually comes from his younger sister), Mark’s mom and younger sister are making their way as best they can after Mark’s father was convicted of manslaughter. They have moved to a new community, a new school, and Mark’s mother has a new job.

     These stories must be told, however. The hopes coming out of World War II and the Holocaust were that racism in all its forms, nationalism and fascism, would be defeated forever haven’t materialized as the current situation in the world proves today. As Hitler and his minions did in their time, today’s recruiters for hate groups target youth to carry out their campaigns of intimidation and marginalization. It’s imperative the education system teach young people the lessons of history and arm them with critical thinking skills and the ability to discern facts from propaganda.

     Pool is a game Mark and his dad loved to play together. Mark excelled due to his dad’s patient coaching. Hanging out in the pool hall is comforting to Mark until War, aka Warren, arrives on the scene, quickly assesses Mark’s talent and finds ways to exploit Mark’s abilities for his own nefarious needs.

     Typical of the hi-lo genre, Shark is written in the first person, the plot is fast paced, with much of the action being expressed through dialogue, the language is simple (Fry Reading Level 3.7) and the characters are not complex.

     Shark is a page turner and will keep readers engaged and curious.

Highly Recommended

Ruth McMahon is a professional librarian working in a high school library in Lethbridge, AB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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