Shark Baby
"Who am I?" wonders Shark Baby. When his "mermaid's purse" egg case is torn loose in a storm, he finds himself on a journey through different ocean habitats: kelp forests, coral reefs, and seagrass meadows. He learns what kind of shark he isn't, but not what kind he is. He needs to find the “mermaid” to learn where he belongs, but the ocean is big and full of dangers. Will he find out who he is—and what he can do—in time?

Written by Ann Downer
Illustrated by Shennen Bersani

32 pg, 8.5 X 10, Ages 4.8, Grades PK-3
Lexile: AD 700, AR: 3.7, F&P: N
Hardcover 9781607186229 $17.95  
Spanish Hardcover 9781607187097 $17.95  
Paperback 9781607186342 $9.95  
Spanish Paperback 9781628553512 $9.95  
EBook 9781607186700 $6.95  
Spanish EBook 9781628551594 $6.95  
Keywords:   behavioral adaptation, physical adaptation, life cycles, ocean habitats, life science, marine animals, compare/contrast
Animals in the book:   horn shark, pajama shark, octopus, manatee, manta ray, sea lion, swell shark
Vetters:   Thanks to Jason Robertshaw and the education staff at Mote Marine for verifying the accuracy of the information in this book.

“Shark Baby is a beautifully illustrated and written tale of a brand new baby shark who goes on a search to find out what kind of shark he is. As he’s hurled about on a stormy ocean current, the reader meets other types of sharks and ultimately learns Shark Baby is a swell shark—one who, when feeling threatened, gulps in a great deal of water to swell up to twice his size. Following the story is a wonderful workbook that teaches children various facts about different types of sharks and will encourage some future marine biologists. This will be a great read for any child.”
Gregory S. Stone, Ph.D., Executive Vice President, Global Marine and the Moore Center for Science Conservation International

"K-Gr 1–As Shark Baby opens, the title character is still in his egg case (also called a mermaid’s purse), yet is curious about himself and the world around him. Rough waters jar the case loose from its kelp strand and when it tears slightly, Shark Baby is able to peek out and talk to other marine creatures. On the ocean floor, he meets a horn shark, a pajama shark, and then an octopus that suggests that he find the mermaid. The mermaid (really a manatee) sends him back to the kelp forest where he learns that he is a swell shark. The large, full-spread illustrations are appealing and support the gentle nature of the story. The book concludes with additional facts about sharks and their egg cases and a “True or False” quiz. No sources are listed. A short, sweet story about discovering one’s identity and finding one’s place in the world."–Stephanie Farnlacher, Trace Crossings Elementary School, Hoover, AL
School Library Journal

"Highlights a side to sharks not often found in picture books..." (January 2013)
Kirkus Reviews

Author/Illustrator Info:

Ann Downer has never lived very far from the ocean. When she was little, her uncle took her to a beach to see horseshoe crabs, and she has been interested in sea creatures ever since. She spent part of her childhood in and around the Pacific Ocean, living first in the Philippine Islands and then in Thailand. Now she lives in Somerville, Massachusetts, not far from the Atlantic Ocean. With her husband and son, she likes to go looking for sea creatures in tide pools in Maine. She once had a chance to go out in a very small boat with some scientists who study whales, and got to listen to the whales coming up for air. She used to be scared of sharks (she still is, a little!) but mostly thinks they are some of the most beautiful and fascinating creatures on Earth. Ann helped edit two books about the ocean for grown-ups: Oceans: Heart of Our Blue Planet and Underwater Eden: Saving the Last Coral Wilderness on Earth. She is the author of five novels for young readers and Elephant Talk, a book about the ways elephants communicate.

Shennen Bersani is an award-winning illustrator with 2 million copies of her books cherished and read by children, parents, and teachers throughout the world. Her art delivers heartfelt emotion, the wonders of nature and science, and creates a unique joy for learning. Some of Shennen’s other illustrated works include A Case of Sense Once Upon an Elephant, Salamander Season; Sea Slime: It’s Eeuwy, Gooey and Under the Sea; The Shape Family Babies; Animal Partners; Shark Baby; Home in the Cave; The Glaciers are Melting!; and Astro: The Steller Sea Lion for Arbordale. In 2015, Shennen made her debut as an author with Achoo! Why Pollen Counts. Shennen lives with her family near Boston. For more information, visit her website at


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