Close to Shore by Michael Capuzzo & Shutting Out the Sky: Life in the Tenements of New York 1880-1924 by Deborah Hopkinson


First, I was inspired by the PLA non fiction booktalk to read Close to Shore (the younger readers adaptation) and then because Allison read it and liked it I just had to read it too! I finished it in one morning… it’s a definite page turner! The story is fascinating but the storytelling really is what makes this book incredible. Facts we now know about sharks today are intermingled in the story of what happened in 1916. It’s really amazing how little people knew about sharks… to the point that even the shark experts (ichthyologists) believed these attacks were done by a Killer Whale or other sea mammal.

I also loved the facts and stats thrown in like a person is more likely to be attacked by a shark if they are swimming with a dog! (Because the dog’s erratic swimming causes sound waves a shark wants to investigate.) I learned so much from this book but I have to admit that if I had been watching it…I would have had to close my eyes at some of the gory parts!

Another nonfiction read I really enjoyed is Shutting Out the Sky: Life in the Tenements of New York 1880-1924 by Deborah Hopkinson. Like Close to Shore this book is filled with photographs and primary sources which really give you a feel for the time and place. This book follows the lives of five actual children and young adult immigrants who lived in tenements in New York City. Their profiles begin in their home countries…Italy, Russia, Lithuania, Romania – describing their hardships and their reasons for emigrating. The last chapter outlines the rest of their lives answering the question “What happened to them?” The book also includes great resources like a timeline, further reading, and bibliography. If you find city histories or immigration intriguing then you’ll want to read this book.

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