A collective of bibliophiles talking about books. Book Fox (vulpes libris): small bibliovorous mammal of overactive imagination and uncommonly large bookshop expenses. Habitat: anywhere the rustle of pages can be heard.
A bathroom adventure packed with sharks, sea creatures and silliness.
As a small child, I’d arrive at my local swimming pool, the first person to enter its still water, and I’d alarm myself with the idea that a shark had found its way in there. I’d seen a few scenes from Jaws (after pretending to be asleep on the living room sofa), and had developed a fascination with sharks. My favourite book at the library was a high quality print, non-fiction volume called Shark Attack and it contained some seriously gory photographs. Now, in hindsight, perhaps this fascination was not entirely healthy, but I’m still captivated by sharks and was pleased when daughter chose this book in our local branch of Waterstones.
My daughter picked up There’s a Shark in the Bath because of the illustrations, which are beautifully realised. She has since spent hours poring over them and trying to pick out details she hasn’t noticed before. These sharks, with their yellow smiles and spotted backs, are sassy, not scary. Toothy, not terrifying. It is true that – due to some very poor plumbing – they have found their way into a little girl’s bathtub, but they are not particularly intelligent sharks and our protagonist, Dulcie, manages to outwit them at every turn. In addition to being clever, Dulcie is confident and brave, which is just as well, given the circumstances.
As in so many of my favourite children’s books, the protagonist is alone in battling her enemies, because although Dulcie’s parents are both at home with her, they do not believe she is telling the truth. Note this exchange:
“There’s a SHARK in the bath!”
Dulcie’s mum just smiled. “Next you’ll tell us there’s an elephant in your cereal.”
“No – that would be silly,” said Dulcie.
Dad rolled his eyes. “Well, you’d better go and fish out that shark, then.”
So Dulcie did fish it out.
Parents, eh. Hopeless.
There’s a Shark in the Bath is an amusing picture book containing just the right number of gasps and giggles. I won’t give away the denouement, but readers may correctly surmise that the story does not end in a Jaws-esque bloodbath. At least, not in the final draft of the story (perhaps there’s the authorly equivalent of a director’s cut hidden on a hard drive somewhere?) In any case, I’d highly recommend this story as an exciting read for young children. Or indeed for anyone with an interest in brilliant picture books.
Paperback, 32 pages, Scholastic, ISBN-10: 140712191X, £6.99