Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Manfish: A Story of Jacques Cousteau

Berne, Jennifer. 2008. Manfish: A story of Jacques Cousteau. Ill. by Eric Puybaret.

This is a softly and beautifully illustrated picture book biography of Jacques Cousteau. The illustrations were painted in acrylic on linen, and they are as soothing as the ocean life which they depict. Blues, greens, grays and shimmering silver take center stage in this short, but informative book. In illustrations showing human and marine life, marine life has an equal or greater presence - just as Cousteau would have liked.

The narrative is simple, yet compelling, detailing his first use of his invention, the "aqualung," Berne writes, "Below the surface, Jacques swam and glided and dove. He did flips and somersaults. He stood upside down on one finger, and laughed bubbles into the sea. Jacques could breathe beneath the water! Now he could swim across miles of ocean, his body feeling what only scales had felt, his eyes seeing what only fish had seen."

What a legacy! A great book!

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