Shark in the Park by Nick Sharratt

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Shark in the Park by Nick Sharratt

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Category: For Sharing
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Magda Healey
Reviewed by Magda Healey
Summary: This is a perfect interactive book for an older toddler or a preschool child that still likes lift-the-flap type books. The rhyme flows well, the illustrations are fun, the surprises clever. Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 24 Date: February 2007
Publisher: Corgi Childrens
ISBN: 978-0552549776

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I like Nick Sharratt. He illustrated some books by Julia Donaldson - and I like his pictures more than Axel Scheffler's (though I suspect I am in a minority here). We also had some Sharratt-illustrated Daisy books by Kes Gray - Eat Your Peas and Yuk! and they were great.

I was worried about his solo efforts, though. It's not that easy to write a picture book, and there are some rather dreadful examples of books with great illustrations and awful text - for an example look no further than Sadie the Airmail Pilot.

I am very happy to report that Shark in the Park is an unequivocal success. Its main focus is on the graphics' side, as it's a picture book with cut outs through which parts of pages can be seen suggesting that a shark, indeed, is roaming through the local park (or so the little boy testing his new telescope thinks). The illustrations are in the established Nick Sharratt style, with bold, colourful and very dynamic drawings with thick black outline and they convey the freedom and the excitement of a visit to the park perfectly.

The lens-shaped cut-outs appear every time Timothy looks through his telescope and every time a black triangle appears looking uncannily like a shark's fin. Turning the page dispels the mystery and Timothy leaves the park convinced that there are no sharks in the park today. Or are there?

What accompanies the illustrations is a simple rhyming text which flows well and avoids clumsiness and contrived, stilted feeling often found in badly rhymed children's' books. It's nothing amazing, but it works fine and that's enough. Creative typography complements the whole production, with some speech bubbles and large capitals for Timothy's yelling.

Children, even older ones that are the target group for such titles, love interactive picture books: the mystery and then the surprise discovery has a magnetic pull and the way it's done in Shark in the Park is a true delight.

I find it hard to pin down why I liked it so much, maybe it's just the sight of a big, colourful park in middle of winter? There is no particular depth or message there, but the book is infused with a rather exhilarating sense of wonder and can be seen as an encouragment to explore new ways of looking at the world. Those keen on arts-crafts-and-science type activities could find an inspiration for making half-hidden pictures that reveal themselves to be something else when uncovered.

Highly recommended for preschool children aged 2 to 4, while an older sibling who's just learned or learning to read might happily have a go too.

Our thanks to the publishers for sending this book. How about a trip to the farm instead of the park?

Another interactive delight, suitable for even smaller children, is Rod Campbell's Dear Zoo. If you're looking for boisterous books for pre-schoolers then Fix-It Duck by Jez Alborough, Hairy Maclary by Lynley Dodd and Phyllis Root's Rattletrap Car are sure to appeal.

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Buy Shark in the Park by Nick Sharratt at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Shark in the Park by Nick Sharratt at


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Jill said:

I really like Nick Sharratt too, although I feel rather strongly that he and Jacqueline Wilson should get a divorce. If mine were still wee, I'd definitely buy this.

Claire said:

This sounds like one to add to my wish list for when my little one is big enough!

Magda replied to Claire:

Yes, maybe a wee bit short of 'instant classic', but definitely one to remember.