Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jacques Cousteau

The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jacques CousteauTitle: The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jacques Cousteau    
Author: Dan Yaccarino  
Illustrator: Dan Yaccarino
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Publication Date: 2009
Genre/Format: Biography/Picture Book  
Summary: This book succinctly tells the story of Jacques Cousteau, famous oceanographer, from his childhood to his adult accomplishments.
What I Think: I'm starting to realize that illustrations/artwork are extremely important to me when I'm reviewing books.  This book is just stunning when it comes to the artwork.  The colors are vibrant throughout the entire book.  The wording is simple, describing how Jacques Cousteau first fell in love with the ocean and his dreams to share that underwater world with the people of the world.  I honestly didn't know much about his life as a child so it was interesting to read.  I also didn't realize his inventions and ideas when it came to the ocean.  There are also quotes from Cousteau himself sprinkled throughout the book.
I love teaching autobiography/biography to students.  I would introduce this book by asking kids what they know about the ocean and how they think we learn about the ocean.  I probably would throw in a reference to Finding Nemo to activate their background knowledge.  I would introduce the word "oceanographer" and explain what that is before introducing Jacques Cousteau as one of the most influential in underwater exploration.  I think by doing this kids would be excited to see who this guy is and what he's all about!
Read Together: K - 5
Read Alone: 3 - 6 
Read With: Nonfiction text about the ocean; Other autobiographies/biographies 
Snatch of Text:  
"Jacques Cousteau loved the sea.
He spent his whole life exploring it.
The ocean was the most incredible
place he'd ever seen, and he wanted
to share its beauty with the world.

'The sea, once it 
casts its spell, holds
one in its net of 
wonder forever.'
-Jacque-Yves Cousteau"
Reading Strategies to Practice: Activating Background Knowledge, Making Connections, Asking Questions  
Writing Strategies to Practice: Writing with Quotations, Autobiography/Biography, Personal Narrative
Writing Prompts: Choose a quotation from a famous person and use that quotation to start off your own autobiography or a story about a time in your life.   
Topics Covered: Adversity, Exploration, Dreams, Integration-Oceanography, Autobiography/Biography, Inventions, Attitude 
Translated to Spanish: No


  1. Wow! I think this entry just gave me a lesson plan for the end of the year in my crazy time after TAKS! :)

  2. We visited an aquarium this summer. I wish that we would have read this book beforehand because I think that it would have helped put some things into perspective for my daughter. We don't live near the ocean, so I think that her understanding is pretty abstract.