Candlewick Press

June 2010

$16.95 AU

276p pb

ISBN: 978-0763646271

fp June 2007

Shark Girl

Kelly Bingham

from the book...

On a sunny day in June, at the beach with her mom and brother, fifteen-year-old Jane Arrowood went for a swim. And then everything - absolutely everything - changed.


Now she's counting down the days until she returns to school with her fake arm and kids will whisper, "That's her. That's Shark Girl," when she passes.


But right now there are only questions. Why did this happen? Why her? What about her art? What about her life?


In this artful first novel, Kelly Bingham uses poems, letters, telephone conversations, and newspaper clippings to look unflinchingly at what it's like to lose part of yourself and the courage it takes to find yourself again.

If you have read this verse novel and would like to share your opinion of it with other readers please send your review or comments to YARR-A

Shark Girl is a verse novel about a teenager who goes through the horrific experience of losing an arm to a shark.

This book has a very unusual plot and the author has cleverly orientated it into something so realistic and easy-to-read. By use of poetic verses, the story unravels the life of this misfortunate fifteen-year-old after being attacked by a shark and having her arm amputated from above the elbow. There is almost a new poem on each page with a different scenario and/or different emotion.

The storyline is interesting in that it describes in simple short words, the details of the main character’s new life and also that of the characters around her (i.e.; her family and friends). Instead of using long and drawn-out sentences, Kelly Bingham has just used short, easily understandable, and very descriptive keywords to portray each scene and each atmosphere.

In this book, the reader really gets to learn and feel what Jane, (the main character) is going through. The shame and embarrassment, the anxiousness and depression, and all the other emotions that Jane is experiencing is clearly described and without lengthy sentences.

Before reading this book I had never read a novel in verse, so at first I found it a little strange but as I kept reading I found the  storyline just seemed so realistic telling about Jane’s progress.

Xiaowen, age 15, Canberra, Australia

Shark Girl by Kelly Bingham tells the story of budding artist, 15 year old Jane Arrowood. One day while swimming at the beach with her brother she is attacked by a shark which results in a lengthy stay in hospital and an amputated arm. The book then details her life when she returns home and back to school. What will her friends say, will she be stared at and whispered about and what about her passion for drawing? Her life has will she cope? Read the book to find out.

Told over three parts in short chapters of verse, the author details the feelings and emotions of Jane as she struggles to adjust to her new life. Along the way she meets others who help her heal and move forward in her life. The verse structure allows for  a real depth of emotion and the inserts of various letters from well wishers is an interesting touch. All up a good read for ages 12 and up.

Bea, Canberra, Australia 

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