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“Jacques saw the people, without realizing it, were slowly killing the sea and its creatures, by dumping garbage and poisonous chemicals into the ocean so much. Jacques knew what he had to do. He had to make movies. Movies to warn people. Movies to save the sea.” —Manfish
Manfish: A Story of Jacques Cousteau
by Jennifer Berne
AR Test, Picture Book
5 - 8
Once upon a time in France, a baby was born under the summer sun. His parents named him Jacques. As he grew, Jacques fell in love with the sea. He dreamed of breathing beneath the waves and swimming as gracefully as a fish. Jacques spent his childhood playing, experimenting, and creating. He loved making films and exploring the ocean, which leads to his desire to become a manfish. Jacques Cousteau grew up to become a champion of the seas and one of the best-known oceanographers in the world.
Beautifully painted illustrations show the magic that Jacques found under the sea. The illustrations contrast Jacques with magnificent sea creatures that he encounters, from whales to seascape plants. Jacques and his friends’ cameras “captured camouflaged scorpion fish, ugly as toads with poisonous spines. Dorados—brilliant fish that glowed the color of emeralds, sapphires, and rubies.” Large illustrations will captivate readers as they teach about different sea life.
Jacques’ imagination and inventiveness will encourage readers to try new things. In order to spend more time underwater, Jacques invented the “aqualung” which allowed him to swim across miles of ocean. However, Jacques didn’t just explore the ocean for fun. He also made films to educate people. When he saw that pollution was killing the sea and its creatures, Jacques made a move to warn people and save the sea. With the aqualung, Jacques made it possible for anyone to explore the sea.
Jacques’ biography uses poetic text, lovely descriptions, and amazing artwork in order to highlight Jacques’ contribution to the world. While younger readers will enjoy the book’s pictures, the text-heavy pages may make it difficult to keep younger readers’ attention. Each page has up to 13 complex sentences that use difficult vocabulary. Parents will need to read the book to younger children, instead of having them read the book independently.
Every ocean-loving reader should read about Jacques’ life because it shows how one person’s love of the ocean made a lasting impact on the world. Even though readers may have a difficult time understanding all of the biography, the beautiful illustrations make Manfish an excellent choice for readers who dream of exploring the ocean. Young readers who love the ocean should also check out the picture books Shark Lady by Jess Keating and Way Down Deep in the Deep Blue Sea by Jan Peck.
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