TMW Book Reviews

Review – Binkie: The Kindest Shark in the Sea


Michelle W. Campanelli


“Binkie” is an imaginative tale set in the sunlit lagoons of Florida, where a unique lemon shark pup named Gary challenges the fearsome reputation of his kind with a heartwarming desire for peace and friendship. This story offers a delightful read for both children and adults, encouraging a deeper understanding of harmony among all creatures.

Gary, an eight-foot-long shark with silver and yellow-brown skin, is adeptly characterized as the peaceful son of Undertow, the notorious human-biting king of the lagoon. Unlike his fearsome father, Gary harbors no appetite for humans or the chaos that follows them. His preference for small fish and his peculiar attachment to a binkie (pacifier) rather than engaging in the violent behaviors expected of him makes Gary a charming protagonist. His courage to stand against the norm, especially in the face of pressure from his father and peers, paints him as an example of individuality and kindness.

The story utilizes humor and light-hearted dialogue to address serious themes such as peer pressure, violence, and the misconceptions that often plague different species and, by extension, different people. Through interactions between Gary and other sea creatures, including a wise turtle and a knowledgeable seagull, the story shows us what community interdependence is all about. The discussion around the ecological benefits of preserving life, such as baby turtles which in turn help manage algae and attract fish, provides a powerful lesson on the environmental impact of each creature’s choices.

We see valuable lessons as well. Gary’s decision to actively promote peace and reject violence, even when confronted by his powerful father, teaches us the importance of personal integrity and courage. His actions are of kindness and the potential for understanding and mutual respect to replace fear and aggression.

I really like the references to pop culture, such as the “Jaws” theme music and mentions of movies like “Meg” and “Sharknado.” Through Gary’s objections to these portrayals, the author subtly critiques the often negative and sensationalistic ways in which sharks—and, metaphorically, any misunderstood group—are depicted.

“Binkie” is all about empathy, kindness, and ecological awareness. Bravery is not defined by aggression but by the strength to defy harmful stereotypes and pursue a path of compassion. This charming story will really touch your heart.

– The Moving Words Review

Official Entry: The Most Moving Book Award, Jan. 3, 2025