The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jacques Cousteau
by Dan Yaccarino

Price at time of review: $16.99
40 pp.
Alfred A. Knopf
New York, NY
ISBN: 0375855734

Grade Level: 1-5

Reviewed by Diana Wiig
Professor of Science/Mathematics Methods

This light and colorful book will delight young and old readers alike. The story of Jacques Cousteau is well researched and written for both lower and upper elementary students. Short paragraphs of clear text illustrated by double-page diagrams make the book appropriate for an introductory read aloud as well.

The stylized pictures will not confuse younger readers; instead, they enhance the story and visual experience. Interspersed throughout the book are Cousteauisms—quotes that elaborate the story in the character's own words. It's easy to imagine an older mentor asking young readers what they think Cousteau meant by quotes like: "It fascinated me to do something that seemed impossible."

I found this NSTA/CBC Outstanding Science Trade Book for 2010 enchanting. It illustrates the career of a scientist who probably never wore a lab coat. The timeline of facts and selected sources for further study at the end will help teachers extend this introductory experience for students. Because the Earth's oceans are such a rich area of research, reading about them is a great way to get young readers excited about exploration.

Review posted on 6/8/2009

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