The Shark Caller

The second book in as many weeks where the main character's brother has just drowned... but Dianne Wolfer's The Shark Caller travels in a very different direction from Words in Deep Blue. Fourteen year old Izzy and her twin brother Ray were born with a foot in two cultures, thanks to their Aussie father and Papua New Guinean mother. After Ray's death, Izzy and her mother travel back to the islands to seek the comfort of family. But Izzy soon discovers that the community needs her to perform a very special, and dangerous ceremony in Ray's place.

I really enjoyed the setting of this book; I've long thought there should be more children's and YA books about the links between Australia and PNG (cough... New Guinea Moon... cough). The idyllic island setting, the  use of Tok Pisin words sprinkled through the text, and the exploration of ancestral beliefs, gave this novel a distinctive atmosphere.

Though Izzy is fourteen, this feels like a book for younger readers, probably Grades 5 and 6. The diving scenes didn't appeal to me, because I'm scared of caves and drowning, so exploring underwater caverns seems like a nightmare to me! But I can see the subject capturing young imaginations, and the eerie deep-sea world almost doesn't need the addition of magic to be weird and spooky. I also enjoyed the poetic interludes from the viewpoint of the shark.

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