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We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Book Review

This book has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is the second book in the “I Survived” series.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

The year is 1916. As Chet’s parents look for work in California, the 10-year-old lives with his Uncle Jerry in Elm Hills, New Jersey. He enjoys working with his uncle in the Elm Hill diner and is happy when three local boys invite him for a swim at the creek. While they’re swimming, the boys play a trick and make Chet think he’s seen a shark. When he realizes he was pranked, Chet feels angry and leaves.

Uncle Jerry says the boys were just trying to make him feel like part of the gang. Chet has moved around a lot with his parents, so he hasn’t stayed in one place long enough to make real friends. Uncle Jerry urges him to play along, so Chet decides to pull a prank of his own. He covers himself in ketchup and jumps out at the boys when they arrive at the creek. He wants them to believe the fabled creek monster attacked him. They’re scared when they think he’s been hurt, but fear turns to anger when they learn it was a joke.

Later, Chet goes to the creek alone to swim. He’s shocked to find himself in the water with a real shark. He escapes without major injuries, but no one believes his story when he runs for help. He finally turns to an old sea captain most people think is crazy. The captain once told Chet and the boys he was bitten by a shark.

Chet and the captain race to the creek where Chet’s friends are now swimming. He yells at them to get out of the water, but they think he’s playing another prank. Suddenly, they see the fin. Two manage to get out of the water. Chet jumps in to save the third. The third boy escapes, but Chet is bitten badly before the captain shoots the shark.

The news later reports that two other people were killed by the same shark further down the creek. The shark had likely been pulled from the Atlantic by strong currents. Chet’s friends visit as he recovers in the hospital. Uncle Jerry says he’ll try to get Chet’s parents to stay and work with him at the restaurant so they don’t have to keep wandering in search of work. Chet is excited about the prospect of staying in Elm Hills. He also realizes this experience has created a special bond between him and his new friends.

Christian Beliefs

Chet and his friends go to church on Sunday.

Other Belief Systems


Authority Roles

Uncle Jerry, a bachelor, takes care of Chet while his parents are in California trying to find employment. He’s glad Chet is with him, and he tries to help the boy navigate his new friendships. Mama and Papa move around a lot in search of new job opportunities, usually taking Chet with them. Captain Wilson is an old sailor whom many believe has lost his mind. He tells the boys he was once attacked by a shark, and he helps Chet after the boy sees a shark in the creek.


The Lord’s name is used in vain once, and heck appears once. Characters talk about the shark attacks, in which sharks have bitten off limbs and left blood everywhere. Chet is bloody and goes to the hospital after being bitten by a shark.



Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments/Notes

Following the story, the book includes facts about sharks and historical information about the shark attacks of 1916. Bull sharks were frequently cited during the Jersey Shore attacks. They were able to leave the Atlantic waters.

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Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range

10 to 12


Lauren Tarshis






Record Label



Scholastic Inc.


On Video

Year Published



Massachusetts Children’s Book Award, 2014, Colorado Children’s Book Award, 2012


We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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