Animals in Literature

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Shark Lady: A True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist

This book features an important role model, Dr. Eugenie Clark whose courage and natural curiosity for the sharks has changed the way we perceive them. Dr. Clark studied sharks at a time when many they were reviled and hunted around the world. Through her career in science, she demonstrated that sharks are beautiful, intelligent creatures, worthy of respect and humane treatment.

Why use this book?

  • Challenges the idea that certain animals are ‘bad’ or ‘evil’. Having this preconceived notion of animals ultimately hurts them as they could be seen as less important when compared to other animals that people know more about. The more people understand animals, the more positive their attitudes are, and the more willing they are to treat them with compassion and respect.
  • This book contains a timeline and synopsis of Dr. Eugenie Clark’s life and accomplishments. The story highlights how courage and curiosity can help us to achieve our goals.

Ask your Students:

  • Why do you think people used to think that sharks were “stupid or mean”? How did these ideas affect sharks?
  • What other animals have a bad reputation? How do these reputations affect these animals? Do you think these reputations are fair to the animals? Why or why not?
  • Do all animals deserve kind treatment? Why or why not?
  • What kinds of things can we do to improve people’s perceptions about animals? Learn more about them, study them (as Dr. Clark did), learn about their intelligence/cognition, encourage kindness and respect to all living creatures and model these behaviours to others.


  • Curious People – Dr. Eugenie Clark’s natural curiosity for sharks has changed the way the world sees them. Curiosity and innovation is required for artists, musicians, historians, etc. Individually or in groups, have students pick a famous curious person to learn more about. Have students create a poster, blog, or PowerPoint that includes a short biography and the contribution the individual has made to the world.
  • Reflection – Rather than get upset when people did not believe her that sharks are not ‘stupid or mean,’ Dr. Eugenie Clark used her determination to prove them wrong. Have students reflect on one a time where their determination helped them to succeed. How did determination help them in their scenario? Have students share with the class if they feel comfortable.
  • Bad Reputation? – Sharks are often portrayed as scary or evil, when in fact they are intelligent and incredibly important to their ecosystems. As a class, make a list of other animals that are often seen as scary or evil (snakes, rats, spiders, etc.). In pairs, have students pick an animal from the list to research information that challenges the negative stereotypes often associated with the animal. Students can make a poster to hang in the classroom to educate others.

Additional Resources Related to Book:

  • For classroom activities and discussion questions related to fostering curiosity, click here.
  • Author and zoologist Jess Keating has a YouTube channel, Animals for Smart People
  • Watch an interview with Dr. Eugenie Clark here.

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