Julia and the Shark
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Julia and the Shark

Kiran Millwood Hargrave, Tom de Freston

The shark was beneath my bed, growing large as the room, large as the lighthouse, rising from unfathomable depths until it ripped the whole island from its roots. The bed was a boat, the shark a tide, and it pulled me so far out to sea I was only a speck, a spot, a mote, a dying star in an unending sky…

Julia has followed her mum and dad to live on a remote island for the summer - her dad, for work; her mother, on a determined mission to find the elusive Greenland shark. But when her mother’s obsession threatens to submerge them all, Julia finds herself on an adventure with dark depths and a lighthouse full of hope…

A beautiful, lyrical, uplifting story about a mother, a daughter, and love - with timely themes of the importance of science and the environment.


Like the ocean it explores, Julia and the Shark is deep, rich and mysterious. Julia lives on a remote island where her scientist mother obsesses over tracking the elusive Greenland shark. As Julia discovers the wonders of astronomy and the joy of friendship, her mother descends into a vortex of confusion.

Beautifully imagined, Julia and the Shark is a moving and poignant tale of love and family that features a unique mother-daughter relationship. It’s a story of passion and obsession; the quest to find a mysterious sea creature; and an adventure steeped in friendship and courage. Ultimately, like the lighthouse Julia’s family lives in, it is a beacon of hope.The dreamy, ethereal illustrations perfectly express the mystery and foreboding of author Kiran Millwood Hargrave’s vision. The writing is lyrical, evoking the mesmerising beauty of nature and the overwhelming power and depth of the ocean; the reader smells the spray of the waves and feels the mystery beneath them. Such is the power of Millwood Hargrave’s writing, she breathes life into any landscape be it geographic or emotional.This is an exceptional story for readers ages 9+ and a joy to read aloud at home and in the classroom. Highly recommended.

Athina Clarke works as a Children’s & YA Book Specialist at Readings Malvern.

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