The Shark Whisperer is the first book in the Tristan Hunt and the Sea Guardians series by marine scientist and author Dr. Ellen Prager. Although a work of fiction, the story contains elements of the author’s scientific knowledge and job experience as well as descriptions of fascinating places where she has worked or visited.
The story begins with Tristan and his family’s visit to the Sarasota Aquarium in Florida.” As he leans over the shark pool's railing trying to get a better look, he falls into the water. At first Tristan is in shock and afraid of becoming the sharks' next meal, but he soon notices the animals are not trying to attack or hurt him, and are instead playing with him. Tristan feels so at ease that he even swims with the sharks before being abruptly pulled out of the pool. After this experience, Tristan becomes obsessed with sharks.
Two weeks later Tristan and other gifted teens attend the Summer Sea Camp at the Florida Keys Sea Park, where teenagers learn about sea life, and learn how to handle sea creatures. Additionally, campers sharpen their newly discovered aquatic skills in among other things, camouflage, underwater night vision, ability to swim in tight spaces, echolocation, and communication with sharks, dolphins, birds, and other sea creatures.
A few weeks into the camp session, the administrators receive numerous complaints about fishing practices that threaten the local shark population. A group of older and experienced teens are sent to investigate but they are captured by the perpetrators. Tristan, his friends, the camp administrators, and the sea creatures join forces in a daring life-threatening rescue operation that will change their lives forever. An important scene from the rescue mission is depicted on the book’s cover.
The author will take Tristan, his friends, and the reader into an exhilarating, dramatic, and captivating underwater adventure as engaging as a Jules Verne classic but with a sprinkling of the Dr. Dolittle, Harry Potter, X-Men, and Percy Jackson stories.
The Shark Whisperer is more than just a great story. It teaches teens about teamwork, discipline, leadership, self esteem, motivation, and the consequences of one's actions, not to mention the importance of protecting our environment. For that reason, I highly recommend this book, not just to its target audience of teens, but also to young adults, families, and youth educators.