While writers are often told to ask "what if?" or mash together two unlikely things, I find it interesting that Jenna's husband spurred this book, by asking her what if the sharks off the coast just wanted to find a friend. Check out her interview from this Monday - https://www.mariacmarshall.com/single-post/2017/11/06/The-Picture-Book-Buzz---Interview-with-Jenna-Grodzicki.
When I first heard the premise of a shark wanting to find a friend, I remembered the sharks in FINDING NEMO and their support group slogan - "Fish are friends, not food." Since those guys were adorable, as they struggled with their predator nature, I was curious to see how a lemon shark could finally convince a sea creature that he was hunting for a friend, not a meal.
Finn Finds A Friend
Author: Jenna Grodzicki
Illustrator: Alexis St. John
Publisher: Clear Fork (SPORK) (2017)
Friendship, persistence, and not judging by appearance.
Synopsis (from Clear Fork):
Finn is not your typical lemon shark. He likes to frolic and have fun in the water. But his brothers’ and sisters’ idea of fun is lying completely still on the ocean floor - BORING! While out searching for new friends, Finn encounters a sea turtle who hides in a rock cave. Clearly, he must want to play hide and seek. Then he comes across some humans who scream, “SHARK!!!” when he approaches. Obviously, they must be excited to see him. Will Finn ever find a friend who can see beyond his sharky appearance?
Life was boring at the bottom of the ocean.
What I like this book:
Young kids tend to be more accepting and have to be taught to see differences. By the time they are in elementary school, differences can be isolating. Many kids, on both sides of misconceptions, will be able to relate to this story.
If we suspend our disbelief and ingrained views of sharks as predators, it is easy to see how a shark would find making a friend difficult. The sharp teeth, the bad reputation, and the wicked grin just don't scream "play with me."
Thus it is hard for Finn, a lemon shark, to find a friend. Few of the ocean creatures Finn encounters can see past his appearance and reputation to even consider he honestly just wants a friend to play with.
Finn's enthusiasm to play - hide and seek with a turtle, for instance - is misconstrued as the search for lunch. And humans are no better. Amazingly, they do not wish to play tag with him. How can he prove himself? Persistence, unselfishness, and a real desire to be a friend, help Finn win the day.
In fun illustrations, Alexis St John creates shifting seascape images through a marbling effect and alternating combinations of blue-green and green colors. Look closely at the cave the turtle hides in. Does it remind you of anyone? Overall a fun book challenging our standard perceptions.
- ask who or what else might have a hard time making friends? Why? How can you help someone make friends? If you were different from everyone around, how would you make friends?
- make shark and sea creature puppets and continue the story. What happens next? Does Finn make other friends when they see he didn't eat the dolphins?
Be sure to comment on this post for a chance to win a signed copy of Finn Finds a Friend and some book swag.
This post is part of a series by authors and KidLit bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions see Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Books.