April 28, 2014

By Courtney Mattison

“… He turned and saw a shark circling around. Tristan backpedaled as best he could in the water. The shark was coming at him fast. He closed his eyes, not wanting to see its toothy grin up close and personal. The shark’s snout touched Tristan’s stomach and he thought: I hope I taste really bad, like that disgusting cauliflower casserole mom made the other night. Then the shark did something totally unexpected. Instead of tearing through his flesh, it sort of nuzzled him – like a dog sideling up for a good scratch.” – Excerpt from The Shark Whisperer by Ellen Prager

As the first book of author and researcher Ellen Prager’s Tristan Hunt and the Sea Guardians series, The Shark Whisperer appeals to middle school readers with a combination of humor, adventure, and fantasy that is sure to spark curiosity among young minds about real-world ocean issues. The story begins with a literal splash as Tristan Hunt – the series’ 12-year old protagonist – falls into a pool of sharks at a South Florida aquarium and instead of immediately scrambling for help realizes that the beasts swarming around him are simply curious and don’t intend to cause him harm. As the story continues and Tristan is invited to the Florida Keys to attend an ocean-themed summer camp, he discovers that he and his young peers have unique talents that enable them to be “secret teenage undersea agents.” Tristan and his friends respond to a distress call from ocean animals, taking the team on a daring rescue adventure in the Bahamas. Their powers are essential to keeping the ocean safe, and The Shark Whisperer is just the first in a series of adventures that take Tristan and his friends on increasingly dangerous and important missions to protect it.

“The Shark Whisperer is packed with science laced with humor and adventure—an underwater Harry Potter, sure to inspire readers to want to dive in and experience the ocean for themselves.” — Sylvia A. Earle

The Tristan Hunt and the Sea Guardians series – with illustrations by Antonio Javier Caparo – is sure to be of interest to various marine educational programs and young fantasy and adventure fiction readers. Author Dr. Ellen Prager’s expertise in marine science and ocean advocacy brings the series to life with vivid and accurate descriptions of marine species and the threats they face, woven among plenty of action and humor. Many of the adventures Tristan and his friends have are based on Prager’s own extensive experiences in, on and around the ocean. President of Earth2Ocean, Inc., Prager has served as Chief Scientist of the Aquarius Reef Base – the world’s only operating underwater research station – where she completed two missions living underwater for up to two weeks at a time. Her other very cool jobs have included: Associate Director of a marine lab on Lee Stocking Island in the Bahamas (a place that Tristan visits in the novel); Faculty Scientist at the Sea Education Association (SEA); Assistant Dean at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science; and USGS researcher.

Dr. Ellen Prager diving with a friendly goliath grouper under the Aquarius Reef Base habitat off Key Largo, FL. Photo © Stephen Frink.

Dr. Ellen Prager diving with a friendly goliath grouper under the Aquarius Reef Base habitat off Key Largo, FL. Photo © Stephen Frink.

Unlike many scientists who have trouble explaining their work to laypeople, Dr. Prager relishes it with speaking engagements and book launch events focused at inspiring readers to become excited about the ocean. Scarletta Junior Readers will officially launch The Shark Whisperer on May 1, but Prager has already been busy visiting aquariums and bookshops to meet students and spread the word. The Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, the Cruise Industry Charitable Foundation and International SeaKeepers Society provide resources for educational events. On June 8 – World Oceans Day – you can catch Prager at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. for a talk and book signing.

Dr. Ellen Prager with two young ocean lovers at a book event for The Shark Whisperer.

Ellen Prager with two young ocean lovers at a book event for The Shark Whisperer.

“No need to whisper: I very much like, like, like this highly readable, highly unusual way of looking at the ocean.” – Carl Safina, author of Song for the Blue Ocean and host of PBS Saving the Ocean

Learn more about The Shark Whisperer and the Tristan Hunt and the Sea Guardians series and find out how to get your own copy HERE.

Follow Ellen Prager on Twitter and Facebook for the latest on the series.

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