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Summary: Whenever she could, Bethany Hamilton went to the beach to surf. Her parents, also surfers, had moved the family to Hawaii because they loved surfing so much. On Halloween morning 2003, Bethany and her friends went out to catch a perfect wave. Instead, a shark caught her and she lost her arm. That hasn't deterred her and within a few months she was back in the water. This is a photoillustrated biography about a teenager overcoming severe trauma.
Type of Reading: family reading, anytime reading, independent reading, read aloud book, reluctant reader
Recommended Age: read together: 7 to 9; read yourself: 8 to 12
Interest Level: 3.4
Reading Level: 4
Age of Child: Read with and by a 9-year-old girl.
Young Reader Reaction: The cover originally put off my daughter, but after I started reading the story she moved in closer to see and hear everything. She was very impressed by Bethany's story but found some of the images disturbing.
Adult Reader Reaction: This is a book to read with your kids at least the first time through. It might not bother a fifth grader, but third graders probably need that shoulder nearby. That said, this is an incredibly well written, well presented story. The photography is incredible. The glossary is filled with words that are probably familiar to kids who play sports but they offer tried-and-true definitions that will help them.
Pros: This biography of a teenager who lost her arm in a shark attack will, at a minimum, give kids pause to think about their life and, hopefully, inspire them to do more.
Cons: The images, while relevant, may be too graphic for some kids.
Borrow or Buy: Borrow, at least. This is a well-written, well-presented nonfiction picture book for transitional readers. Kids may just want to come back to it when they're feeling sorry for themselves.
Educational Themes: There are several layers to Bethany's story, not the least of which is learning to deal with extreme adversity. She is an example that kids of all shapes, sizes, and ages can accomplish whatever they put their mind to. This is an ideal book for classroom or book club discussions. Those interested in surfing will also find some valuable background information.
Notes: The publisher donated a copy of this book knowing that we would consider it for review and provide an independent, unbiased profile. This book will be given to a nonprofit to help readers in need.