Manfish: A Story of Jacques Cousteau

It’s Wednesday so that means time to take a look at a great non-fiction picture book! Thank you again to Alyson at Kid Lit Frenzy for hosting this awesome link-up. We are finding a ton of great books through all of these blog recommendations.

This week I wanted to focus on a great book that I found while trolling the juvenile biography section at our local library – Manfish: A Story of Jacques Cousteau.

This is a beautiful biography about the great Jacques Cousteau. J is a huge lover of all things having to do with the ocean, especially if dolphins are involved. She has long talked about being a marine biologist and can spend hours in aquariums. For her, this was an eye-opening story about the man who revolutionized how we visit and view the depths of the ocean.

As a child, Jacques was a curious boy. He loved water and questioned how it worked – why he floated, why rocks sank. He dreamed that one day he would be able to breathe underwater. He loved to experiment and design machines. He also loved movies, which was a different medium then it is today. He filmed everything around him and got everyone in his family involved. When he was given a pair of goggles and was able to see under the the ocean’s waves, his life was changed forever – he had to find a way to become a manfish.

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Through experimentation, trial-and-error and perseverance, he helped create the aqua-lung, the first self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (SCUBA). Next, he figured out a way to bring a movie camera into the depths of the sea and were able to show the general public unimagined sights. “They swam with giant whales, hitched rides on sea turtles, and made friends with porpoises with shining eyes and smiling faces.”

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Fast forward a number of years and “Jacques saw that people, without realizing it, were slowing killing the sea and its creatures, by dumping garbage and poisonous chemicals into the ocean he loved so much.” In 1973, Cousteau created the Cousteau Society for the Protection of Ocean Life.  He then set about talking to people all over the world to help protect the oceans.

This book isn’t a perfect representation of his life, but it a great place for a child to start. It leaves Cousteau’s legacy to the children – to discover, care for and love the world around them.


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