cover image The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jacques Cousteau

The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jacques Cousteau

Dan Yaccarino, Author . Knopf $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-375-8557

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.)