Reviewed by Deborah Lloyd for Readers' Favorite
Earl was different from all the other sharks in the ocean. While the others scared people and ate everything in sight, he played fun games with his friends. One day, Crusher and his mean shark friends surrounded Earl, telling him he needed to “Chomp, Rip and Gulp.” When Earl said he’d rather eat seagrass, Crusher said Earl must be gay. Although his friend Sasha told him he should ignore Crusher, he couldn’t, so he hid in the deep dark waters. However, when Crusher was in danger, it was Earl who found a way to save him. Several important life lessons are taught in the children’s book, Earl: The Not-So-Great White Shark, crafted by George Neeb.
The first lesson is to accept oneself, even if it seems there are too many differences. How Earl reacted to Crusher’s harsh words is not unusual for a child. This provides a great opportunity for parents to discuss bullying and react to it in healthy ways, opening the door for children to tell their parents or a teacher. The story also gives parents a way to discuss acceptance of people who appear to be different, including all sexual orientations. This author introduced these topics to demonstrate a thorough understanding of children’s thought processes, as these are presented in a gentle, matter-of-fact manner. Earl: The Not-So-Great White Shark is charming with delightful illustrations. More importantly, it can be a useful tool for parents to introduce seemingly difficult topics skillfully.