Monday, 26 February 2018

Shark Lady, The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist – Jess Keating & Marta Àlvarez Miguéns - Review and Story Sack

'Shark Lady, The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist’ penned by Jess Keating and illustrated by Marta Àlvarez Miguéns, is a beautiful, engaging picture book which to add to its charm is a true story.

The vividly illustrated hardback picture book tells the story of The Shark Lady, Eugenie Clark, from her first childhood trip to aquarium, through to her becoming one of the most respected and pioneering shark expects in the world. Through the charming told story, Jess Keating shows the childhood passion, and Engine’s determination to rise above discrimination, and prove to the world that she as a women was both intelligent enough to become a zoologist and brave enough to explore the watery depth of the ocean.

Along with the main story, the book is full with facts about Marnie creatures, like the inside covers which are bursting with Marta’s illustrated species of sharks and the ‘Shark Bites’ which are small factoids dispelling common shark myths, plus a timeline depicting Eugenie’s amazing achievement and discoveries.

Shark Lady, The True Story of How Eugenie Clark, is an inspiring insight into the life of an amazing lady, but is also a message to young children that determination and hard work along with the tenacity to never give up can lead to the realisation of your dreams.

Shark Lady, The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist – Story Sacks

Story Sack are fun education tools, which can be used to help children immerse in a book and gain greater understanding of the story. Most Story Sacks are constructed around a fiction picture book, but there are many children who much prefer to read non-fiction, so SOTB thought we’d have a go at constructing a story sack around Shark Lady, The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist.

So just before we begin, I’ll start with as quick refresher of what is included in a story sack..

  • A good quality fiction book, (picture book or novel
  • A non-fiction book related to the story and themes in the chosen picture book.
  • Toys, (ideally a soft toy for younger children).
  • A game or activity also related to the theme of the chosen fiction book.
  • Optional worksheet based on the story and themes off the story sack.

Shark Lady Story Sack for Younger Children

For the Non-Fiction book element we have paired Shark Lady, with Miles Kelly Publishings ‘I Love Sharks; First Facts and Pictures’ which is a beautiful picture book filled with shark facts.

For the younger readers activities, we have a plush Shark Lady, and Shark, plus a Magnetic wooden ocean fishing game.

Shark Lady Story Sack for Older Children

The older childrens storysack utilised the same nin-fiction book, but we’ve swapped out the soft toys, for Schleich Wildlife Shark set with three shark figures, plus a playmobile female diver (it is the only female diver figure I could find, proving socusity still belives it a masuclie pursuit!) For the game element, we choosen the fact filled Top Trumps Shark cards.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Frankenstein at 200 – Review of Making the Monster, The Science behind Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein by Katheryn Harkup

When we posted our Frankenstein inspired Story Sack features a few weeks ago we promised you a full review of Katheryn Harkup’s ‘Making the Monster, The Science behind Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein’, and so here it is!

So firstly, this book does exactly what it says on the cover, and a more bedsides. Making the Monster is a non- fiction adult’s book that explores the sciences that Victor would have used to fashion his creation and history both social and Mary Shelley’s that went into the shaping of the book. Despite being an adult book, the book is accessible (for me a dyslexic who reads predominately children’s books, and who has not studied any science since the mid 1990’s, I both read and understood it without difficulty) so is definitely pitched at a level that older YA readers will be able to read and understand.

Making The Monster looks at the science that was known at the time and how Victor would have applied it to both construct and crucially to bring it to life. With this aim, Katheryn explores the history of science from the ancient times through alchemy to the life and times of Mary (and of course Victor), The Enlightenment. The Enlightenment being at time where great leaps in the understanding and the application of science, medicine and electricity took place, and when science was an everyday entertainment and subject of interest and conversation to the greater public. 

In addition to looking at the ‘nut’s and bolts’ of how the monster could have been made, Katheryn explores the science obsessed society in which Mary was surrounded, and the fascinating, eccentric, brilliant and often morally dubious real life figures that Katheryn poses as the influence of some of the books pivotal characters. The likes of John Hunter the famous surgeon, anatomist and dentist who pioneered may medical advances (many still used today) whose multi-faceted personality has said to have inspire, not only Frankenstein, but Jackal and Hyde, Doctor Doolittle, and Moby Dick.

But it is not just the science that makes the story of Making the Monster so fascinating, but the history, not only of science, and society at a whole, but of Mary herself and her unique, radical, and often uncontroversial upbringing. Kathryn begins the book, by exploring the lives of both Mary’s parents, Mary Wollstonecraft – writer, translator and pro-feminist and William Godwin a writer known for his radical views. Mary’s childhood, was one in which she was exposed to and immersed in the company of many of the great thinkers of the time, as many of her father friends would visit their home, which also doubled as a publishing house for her father and step-mother’s publishing business and bookshop meaning young Mary also had access to a wealth of texts. 

Making the Monster as part of our YA Frankenstein Story Sack

In the early chapters, Katheryn looks at how this unique upbringing helped shape Mary, and nurture her intelligence and creativity, it also looks at many of the family and her future husband’s (Percy Shelley) friends and acquaintances and how they also played strong parts in influencing the novel. Through reading these chapters of Mary own life experiences, Katheryn also explores the auto-biographical elements of Frankenstein, inspired by dreams of the reanimation of her recently deceased child, and of the aspects of both Percy’s personality and life that heavily influenced the character of victor.

Making the Monster, The Science behind Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, is a fascinating read, which would appeal to adults and YA readers who are interested in sciences, social histories or literature, as it brings a beautifully penned and accessible in-depth look at all the aspects that had to culminate for Mary to write the book. It is definitely worth investing the time to read this fascinating book.