Shadow of the Shark: Magic Tree House #53



Book: Shadow of the Shark: Magic Tree House #53

Author: Mary Pope Osborne

Illustrator: Sal Murdocca

Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers, 2015

ISBN-13: 978-0553510812

ISBN-10: 0553510819

Related website: (series)

Language level: 2

(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)

Recommended reading level: Ages 7 – 10

Rating: **** 4 stars (GOOD)

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

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Osborne, Mary Pope. Shadow of the Shark: Magic Tree House #53 (published in 2015 by Random House Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York City, NY).  What is Jack and Annie’s latest mission?  To have fun!  They return to Mexico where they saw the 1970 World Cup Soccer final game in their previous adventure.  Their friends Randy and Jenny have just returned from a vacation at Cozumel near the Yucatan Peninsula, and the time-travelling siblings want to go there.  So when their young sorcerer friend Teddy from Camelot with a thank-you message from Merlin and Morgan that enables them to have a holiday anywhere they want, they choose to go scuba diving at Cozumel.  But facing a savage shark, unfriendly natives, and a growling jaguar, will they survive their trip?  And why are there no luxury hotels, fine restaurants, theme parks, tourists, and cruise ships as their travel guide shows?

Annie uses the euphemistic exclamation “darn” a couple of times.  Some might interpret Jack and Annie’s encouragement of Heart-of-the-Wind to aspire for leadership among her people as a form of feminism, although apparently historical records seem to indicate that there was a female ruler among the Mayans from 573 to 604.  And in the accompanying information on sharks, there are some evolutionary assumptions regarding “millions of years ago).  The biggest complaint I saw was that there is less really educational material in this book as compared to others in the series.  However, from a positive standpoint, there is some information about the geography of Cozumel and the Yucatan Peninsula, the history of the Mayan Indians, and the scientific facts about coral reefs and sharks.  Also, the new, full-opening drawings are extremely well done and greatly enhance the text.

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