Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Manfish: A Story of Jacques Cousteau

Manfish: A Story of Jacques Cousteau

Jennifer Berne
Illustrator:  Eric Puybaret 
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 6 to 8
Chronicle Books, 2008   ISBN: 978-0811860635

Jacques was a little boy who lived in France. From a very early age Jacques loved water and he fervently wished that he could, like a fish, breath under water. Jacques also loved to build machines and he was fascinated by movies. With great dedication Jacques saved his allowance for a long time so that he could buy a home movie camera. With the camera Jacques made all kinds of movies, and when he joined the French Navy he filmed the many interesting things that he saw on his journeys around the world.

One day a friend gave Jacques some swimming goggles to try and the experience of seeing the underwater world with such clarity changed Jacques' life forever. Jacques and two of his friends wanted to expand man's ability to explore this world. First Jacques created a waterproof case for his movie camera. Then he began to work on finding a way to make it possible for divers to take air with them to the bottom of the sea. Jacques succeeded in his quest when he created the world's first aqualung. With a tank of air on his back Jacques was able to explore underwater worlds for hours, and best of all he took a camera with him so that he could show the world what he saw beneath the waves.

This beautifully written and stunningly illustrated title is a stellar biographical picture book. In her text the author captures Jacques Cousteau's dreams and hopes. She shows readers how the little boy became the man who brought the wonders of the world's oceans into people's living rooms with his films. Eric Puybaret's illustrations perfectly capture the beauty of underwater landscapes, and readers will quickly wish that they too could take a journey to places where whales glide by and seaweeds wave.