Clark the Shark: Friends ­Forever

­HarperCollins. Jun. 2022. 32p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062912596; pap. $4.99. ISBN 9780062912589.
PreS-Gr 2–This Level 2 beginning reader book stresses the importance of listening to your friends. Clark the Shark and Joey the Mackerel are best friends, but when Clark becomes excited about winning a drawing contest, he doesn’t notice that his friend is in no mood to help. They end up quarreling, and Joey tells Clark to go away. Clark has no clue what is bothering Joey, until Amanda Eelwiggle informs him that Joey’s pet catfish died. Amanda challenges Clark to really think about what it means to be a friend. Her exhortations initially boggle Clark’s mind, but eventually Clark creates a rhyme to help him remember all the essential steps: “Listen closely, treat them kind, be there for them, rain or shine. Stick with them until the end, that’s the way to be a friend!” Clark realizes in a flash that he should make a sympathy card for his friend. Joey loves the card, and the two friends are able to work together and win the contest. The text is appropriate for beginning readers, and the illustrations are fun, with the anthropomorphic creatures and the blending of sea details, such as corals and sponges growing in what appear to be garden beds, with ordinary human details like houses and clothes that are only found above the ocean.
VERDICT A recommended story that helps young readers learn how to be a good friend.

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