Berne, Jennifer. 2008. MANFISH: A STORY OF JACQUES COUSTEAU. Ill. by Eric Puybaret. San Francisco: Chronicle Books. ISBN 9780811860635 [Suggested Grade Levels K-3]
This picture book biography recounts the remarkable life of Jacques Cousteau—whose childhood fascination with water, drawing, building things, and with cameras set the stage for his accomplishments as an adult: sailor in the French navy, inventor of the aqualung, captain of the Calypso, underwater explorer and filmmaker. Berne reveals the events of Cousteau’s life in poetic prose simple enough for the very young. She emphasizes Cousteau’s dreams. As a child, she says, he dreamed that he would someday breathe underwater. As an adult, she tells the reader, he dreamed that others would follow his lead “exploring worlds never seen, never imagined.”
These elusive worlds come to life in Puybaret’s elegant illustrations. His watery blue-green paintings span double page spreads and are often framed as if seen through a camera lens or frame by frame on a film real. A fold out page that requires the reader to view the page sideways emphasizes the depth of the ocean floor.
Although direct sources notes are not provided, an author’s note directs readers to the Cousteau Society, and to Cousteau’s films and books.
Pair this biography with a study of ocean animals. After researching, compose a haiku or cinquain verse describing a specific type of marine life. Illustrate each poem using water colors, pastels, markers or crayons.
Other books for young readers about ocean life:
Earle, Sylvia A. HELLO FISH!: VISITING THE CORAL REEF. ISBN 9780792266976
Cyrus, Kurt. HOTEL DEEP: LIGHT VERSE FROM DARK WATER. ISBN 9780152167714
Rose, Deborah Lee. OCEAN BABIES. ISBN 9780792283126
Pyers, Greg. OCEAN EXPLORER. ISBN 9781410905109