Manfish: A Story of Jacques Cousteau
by?Jennifer Berne, ill by Eric Puybaret
Chronicle Books, 2008
What a gorgeous book! This biography of Jacques Cousteau is a dreamy, wonderful adventure. It shares marine inventor and explorer and conservationist Jacques’ life and accomplishments, but more importantly, it shares the quality that helped him do it: a sense of wonder. Jacques wondered about lots of things, from how cranes worked, to how movies were made, to how a person might be able to breathe underwater. Although his love of the ocean eventually led to his life’s work, you get the sense while reading this book that Jacques could have been absolutely anything, and that he would have made a difference in whatever field he chose–all because he wondered. He was curious and industrious and determined. What a great model for kids, no matter where their interests lie.
The writing is terrific. The facts are clear, the anecdotes are kid-friendly, and there are plenty of wonderful word choices. Here are just a couple of my favorite bits:
“At that moment Jacques knew his life was changed forever. His eyes had been opened to the wonders of the sea.”
“Jacques, Philippe, and Did gathered a crew, their aqualungs, their hopes, and their dreams, and set off to explore the inside of the sea…”
“…with eyes on long stalks, buried so deep in the sand they looked like a garden of eyes.”
And the terrific ending, speaking directly to kids:
“Jacques dreamed that someday it would be you, exploring worlds never seen….Worlds that are now yours. To discover. To care for. And to love.”
The art by Eric Puybaret is fabulous, too!
My only nitpick is that I would have liked a bit more backmatter. But overall,?a stellar book!????????
Extension activities for Manfish: A Story of Jacques Cousteau:
- Create a classroom Wonder Book. Have your students focus on looking around them and wondering about things for a week or two. Each day, make time to share what they’re wondering about in the classroom book or on a wall display. Celebrate imagination, and model by sharing things you wonder about, too. You could also incorporate research and find the answers to some of the things your kids have wondered about, if you want.
- Write Wonder Poems. List poems are great for all ages. They can be as simple or as sophisticated as the poet. Have students write poems listing some of the things they wonder about, from the fantastic to the mundane. Check out Falling Down the Page?for some fantastic examples of list poems.
- Watch a Jacques Cousteau documentary. Check out the collection on YouTube, or check one out from your local library.
Supratentorial has the Nonfiction Monday roundup! Go learn something cool!
[review copy of Manfish: A Story of Jacques Cousteau?provided by my library]