Yaccarino (Every Friday) dives into more complex material than many of his previous books for younger readers with this captivating biography. "Weak and sickly" as a boy, Cousteau turned to the Mediterranean (and to tinkering) in his youth, but his life changes forever when a friend gives him a pair of goggles. ("Man has only to sink beneath the surface and he is free," says the oceanographer-his exuberant quotes lend the story a bubbly energy.) Cousteau makes his own diving equipment-the Aqua-Lung, a cover for his camera, undersea lighting-eventually equipping his own research vessel and sharing the world's oceans through his many films and books. Yaccarino's retro-style spreads-smoky blues and violets contrasting with vibrant reds and golds-are nicely suited to Cousteau's underwater playground; the fuzzy quality of his airbrushing makes it seem as though readers are submerged themselves. Yaccarino's somewhat abstracted forms won't satisfy children who want photo-real views of sea life, but the author's enthusiasm for Cousteau, as well as the majesty and mystery of the sea, is apparent on every page. Ages 6-9. (Mar.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jacques Cousteauby Dan Yaccarino
Discover the man behind the snorkel in Dan Yaccarino’s exciting biography!
Yaccarino deftly provides information about important events in Cousteau's life while conveying the excitement and wonder that the ocean explorer experienced. Readers learn about his tinkering that resulted in inventions such as the Aqua-Lung and submersibles that expanded the range of undersea exploration and research. Then Cousteau shared his discoveries through films, books, and television, encouraging others to value and protect the oceans from environmental degradation. Effective layout and page design plus colorful gouache illustrations result in a striking visual presentation for small-group sharing or individual viewing. Brief quotations from Cousteau appear in insets on some pages; there is no documentation of Yaccarino's own research. Jennifer Berne's Manfish (Chronicle, 2008) uses more poetic language and features softer, more aquatic colors in the illustrations. Even libraries with that biography will want to add Yaccarino's book to the shelves.-Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State University, Mankato
“Cousteau’s enduring fascination with the sea comes through clearly, and can’t help sparking similar feelings in readers.”
Review, The New York Times Book Review, May 10, 2009:
"[A] timely gift to the children– and many parents–who are too young to know the adventures of Captain Cousteau and his ship, Calypso."
Review, Chicago Tribune, May 16, 2009:
"Yaccarino's illustrations remind us of all the mysterious undersea beauty Cousteau introduced to so many."
Review, San Francisco Chronicle, April 26, 2009:
"With a deft hand, Yaccarino lays the foundation for an extraordinary life."
Review, The Boston Globe, March 22, 2009:
"Exquisitely written and well-researched."
Review, School Library Journal, March 2009:
"Yaccarino deftly provides information about important events in Cousteau’s life while conveying the excitement and wonder that the ocean explorer experienced."
Meet the Author
Dan Yaccarino is an internationally acclaimed author-illustrator with more than 30 books to his credit. He lives in New York City with his wife and two children.
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