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“And I’d like to point out that learning from our mistakes is part of camp and life,” Director Davis. –Tristan Hunt and the Sea Guardians
The Shark Whisperer
Tristan Hunt and the Sea Guardians #1
by Ellen Prager
Tristan Hunt is known for being clumsy, which is why his parents aren’t surprised when he falls into a pool of sharks. After his strange experience in the shark tank, Tristan is invited to an ocean-themed summer camp in the Florida Keys. But this camp has a secret. All of the campers have a special talent when it comes to the ocean.
While at camp, the ocean animals ask for help figuring out who is finning sharks in the Bahamas. When several of the campers go to investigate, they disappear. With the help of sharks, dolphins, a quick escape-artist octopus, and other sea creatures, can the campers stop the shark-finning, reef-blasting billionaire?
Tristan Hunt and the Sea Guardians takes the reader on an underwater adventure, where sea creatures of all types come to life. As the campers learn about sea life, they discover an array of sea creatures from a toothless shark in a rehabilitation center to chatty seagulls. Several scenes are from a shark’s point of view, which adds interest. Tristian meets several sharks with a Bahamian accent, and one humorous shark laughs at Tristan’s fear of sharks and tells him that humans taste awful. The interaction between humans and sea life, and the variety of sea creatures with their different personalities make the story a lot of fun.
As Tristan and the other campers learn about their skills, their different reactions are interesting. At first, Tristan is a clumsy, insecure boy. However, as the story progresses, Tristan becomes more confident, is able to speak his mind, lead others, and can also laugh at his clumsiness on land. The story connects sea creatures’ behavior to the campers’ behavior and shows the importance of leadership, cooperation, and helping each other.
As a marine scientist, Prager beautifully describes the ocean sea creatures and their habitat as well as highlights the importance of taking care of the ocean. Although the ocean descriptions accurately explain the ocean, some of the long descriptions and advanced vocabulary may make the story difficult for some readers. Tristan Hunt and the Sea Guardians mixes adventure, action, and ocean life to create an exciting, educational fantasy that readers will enjoy. Readers will want to jump into this series, which continues in The Shark Rider.
- Someone is finning sharks. Tristan explained, “Finning, that’s totally disgusting. It’s when people slice off a shark’s fins and then throw the dying shark back into the water.”
- The bad guy’s crew kidnapped some of the campers. The kidnapping was not described.
- The sea life reported that “men from the ship killed and finned ten lemon, two bull, and five bull sharks. Took the fins and dumped the sharks. A few pilot whales were injured by the blasts; hurt their ears and they’re having trouble navigating.”
- In order to free the kidnapped campers, the sea life attacks the bad guy’s yacht. A group of birds “dove like kamikazes toward the men on the upper deck at the back of the ship.” Then a group of birds poops on the men. When the kids try to escape, “the security man also tried to pull out his gun, but the birds had aimed well. The firearm kept slipping in his grasp due to a heavy coating of poop and slime.” The kids jump off the yacht, and the men tried to start the Jet Skis’ engines. “At that very moment, however, another team was preparing to go on the attack. The flying fish swam fast to build up speed. They leapt out of the water, stretched their fins out wide, and used their tails as rudders. The eight-inch, silvery fish glided low, swift, and silently over the water’s surface. . . They hit their target in quick successions, pummeling one of the men in the face and chest.” The attack happens over four pages.
- After the campers are rescued, and with the help of humans, the sea creatures put explosives on the ship. Tristan “noticed that the ship was leaning. Its right side was lower in the water than the left. . . Men started yelling. Black smoke began billowing out from inside the ship.” The yacht sinks, but no one is injured.
- When one of the bad guy’s men finds a group of campers, they trick him into driving his Jet Ski into an ooid sand wave. “The water over the top of the ooid sand wave was too shallow for the heavy Jet Ski. It hit the sand and stopped with a tremendous jolt. Somehow the man was able to stay aboard and upright on his machine. He reached for his gun. Just as he was about to swing his weapon around, a heavyweight rammed him from behind. The man flew off the Jet Ski as if he’d been hit by a dump truck.”
Drugs and Alcohol
- As the kids were flying over an island, “Coach Fred came on the intercom and told them about a secret navy base there that specialized in capturing drug smugglers.” One of the teens asks if the Navy shoots the drug smugglers. Coach Fred replied, “No, they do not shoot the drugs smugglers. . . well only if necessary.”
- Darn is used twice.
- Heck is used once. When a man sees a strange shadow in the ocean, he asks, “What the heck was that?”
- Oh my God is used twice. Tristan’s father said, “Oh for God’s sake.”
- Hugh’s family has a chef. He said, “Thank God we do. My mom can’t cook at all.”
- Someone calls Tristan an idiot.
- A shark calls Tristan a “lame brain.”
- A man calls a group of people dorks.
- frickin’ is used once.
- All of the kids at camp have different abilities. Ms. Sanchez explains why. “Well, as you and the others know, life on Earth is believed to have started in the ocean. Over hundreds of millions of years, animals evolved and adapted to life in the sea—like dolphins. . . Humans have always lived on land. But since life began in the sea, our very earliest ancestors came from the ocean. In some people there are still traces of the genes that allowed those organisms to adapt to and live in the sea. At the right age and with the right help, these genes can sort of, well, be turned on, at least for a few years.”
- When the kids at camp drink a pink-colored water, their hands and feet change. After drinking the pink-colored water, “there was a thin sheet of skin between their toes, like the webbing on a duck’s feet.” The effects of the water are temporary.
- Some of the students can communicate with sea animals. Others have “excellent mucus deployment skills.”
- When an octopus touches Hugh, “the creature turned brown with blue polka dots. Hugh smiled. Then an even more shocking thing happened. Hugh’s hand also turned brown with blue polka dots.” Hugh discovers he has the ability to camouflage and communicate with animals. Ms. Sanchez explains, “I bet in seawater you’ll be an excellent mimic. Your skin will have the ability to change color and maybe even texture when you’re in the ocean.”
- Sam discovers that she can echolocate. Sam was swimming in a lagoon, and “after she made the clicking noises she had more than a feeling that the sharks were coming. It was like she had a full-screen 3D image of them in her head.”
- When the students are in the water, their wounds heal quickly.