This is Margaret Mahy’s well-known ‘cautionary’ tale about being selfish and greedy - feelings that need our society’s attention, now more than ever. Norvin, our protagonist, can act and swim. He also can get extremely cross when other people get in his way. Norvin comes up with a ‘wicked plan’ using his talents to his advantage – an advantage so exciting that consequences seem unimaginable. Norvin’s plan seems to work out. Undisturbed, he swims ‘through the water like a silver arrow’. His acting is completely convincing and believable. People who come face-to-face with Norvin’s adopted shark personality flee the water ‘kicking and screaming with terror’.
Just as Norvin feels at the top of his game, he finds himself in undesirable, even dangerous, company. This is the turning point that makes Norvin decide to re-join the ordinary people. Will they forgive him for what he has been up to? What about the shark danger? Is Norvin giving up? Is he learning to share – or succumbing to the average?
Illustrated by Jonathan Allen, every page delivers significant facial expressions and body language that support the many layers of meaning. This book entertains and inspires much needed conversation.
Title: The Great White Man-Eating Shark
Author: Margaret Mahy
Illustrator: Jonathan Allen
Publisher: Hachette New Zealand
Date of Publication: August 2017
Reviewer: Gerlinde Maria Andraschko
School: Taipa Area School, Taipa