cover image Close to Shore: The Terrifying Shark Attacks of 1916

Close to Shore: The Terrifying Shark Attacks of 1916

Michael Capuzzo, , read by Taylor Mali. . Audio Bookshelf, $39.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-9761932-6-5

Narrator Mali skillfully animates this gripping tale of ocean terror, putting listeners in the bloody saltwater next to unsuspecting swimmers who are suddenly fighting for their lives. The year is 1916 and a rogue great white is killing beachgoers off the New Jersey coast. If the story sounds familiar, it's because it's the true-life inspiration for Peter Benchley's classic Jaws . Author Capuzzo makes his adaptation for young people accessible and informative, with plenty of gruesome scenes to satisfy the gross-out quotient. Mali brings a storyteller's command to the historical material, living the words, not just reading them. When recreating the summer attacks, several of which take place in a creek miles inland, he displays an impeccable sense of timing and suspense. And he artfully mixes heartbreak into the grave descriptions of each grisly aftermath. Mali shuttles easily between accents—city-dweller, Australian scientist, small-town teenager—giving the production a rich feel. Mali also applies white-knuckle tension to the descriptions of big-game hunting parties intent on destroying the predator. At times, Capuzzo's rendering of the shark's psyche strains credibility, briefly undermining Mali's authority. But ultimately, the inherently compelling material, fluid prose and accomplished narration combine for a riveting listen. Ages 12-up. (Mar.)