Monday, July 19, 2010

A Different Underwater Picture

Oil in the Gulf of Mexico, sharks at the Jersey Shore, our beautiful beaches and wetlands under threat...let’s visit better times.

Do you remember that lovely book by Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift From the Sea? My daughter, Carolyn, gave me a copy when she graduated from college with this inscription: “Mom, I hope you love this author." I did. Still do.

Here’s another gift linking us to the sea, and this one can be loved by your young readers, a picture book biography of Jacques Cousteau. When he was young, Jacques Cousteau was given a pair of goggles so he could see underwater. This gift changed his life forever.

The Fantastic Undersea Life of JACQUES COUSTEAU, by Dan Yaccarino, Alfred A.Knopf, 2009.

Writer/illustrator Yaccarino heard Cousteau’s words, “The best way to observe a fish is to become a fish.” He stirs words and art together in a magical mix, pulling the reader deeper and deeper under the sea with Cousteau.

Cousteau’s tv series, The Undersea World of Jacques Costeau, brought sea creatures like whales and dolphins right into people’s living rooms. Yaccarino has accomplished the same feeling for the reader, as if he is standing in an aquarium, but instead of the reader moving from exhibit to exhibit, the exhibits move to him. The placement of double spreads, the vibrant art with blocks of text on one page and circles of quotes from Cousteau on the opposite page, all move together.

Cousteau, who produced 50 books, two encyclopedias, and dozens of documentary films, shot The Silent World, the first full-length, full-color underwater film ever made, in the Mediterranean Sea. His dream was to live and work underwater in labs and actually colonize the ocean. His diving Saucer could descend 350 meters to the Sea Flea which could take scientists another 500 meters. However, the problem, yet to be solved, is this: since people need sunlight to live, how could they actually live underwater?

Your young readers will be transfixed–and maybe take Cousteau’s work to the next level. Or should I say depth?

Be sure to see the trailer:

Enjoy the sea breeze!

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