Monday, December 7, 2009

The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jacques Cousteau

Horn Book (July/August, 2009)
As sleek as a seal, Yaccarino's biography of "the world's ambassador of the oceans" uses sinuous shapes and a retro fifties palette to evoke the beauty of Cousteau's watery domain. With spot quotations from the man himself, the text succinctly numbers Cousteau's inventions (the Aqua-Lung) and achievements (The Silent World was "the first full-length, full-color underwater film ever made"), while the gouache and airbrush paintings go far to convey the allure of the deep. A full-page picture illustrating Cousteau's use of underwater lighting shows a blue seahorse caught in the beams of three lights, the whole scene awash with deep reds; a double-page, blue-toned spread of the Antarctic waters teems with marine life...and one tiny camera-wielding scuba diver almost nose-to-nose with a humpback whale. Lots of variety in picture size and page layout keeps the book dynamic; a timeline and reading list provide further information.

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