French Angelfish, Andrew Dawson Wildlife Photography
Here's a collection of biographies for young readers who'd rather be under the sea. If your little ones love trips to the aquarium and tending to a fish tank at home, they'll love learning about the adventures of well known oceanic explorers like Jacques Cousteau and the less recognized marine biologists who swam in his wake.
"The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jacques Cousteau" written by Dan Yaccarino
Reading level: Age 6 and up
Dan Yaccarino, best known for his books and animated television series about Oswald the octopus, brings Jaques Cousteau to life with bright and bold illustrations. With simple language, this book tells the story of a sickly child who harnessed his inner strength by swimming in the Mediterranean sea. He grew up to help invent diving equipment to explore the sea -- and waterproof cameras to share his explorations with the world. Yaccarino's leading man is svelte and stylized, but quotes from Cousteau -- along with a timeline of significant life events in his life -- keep this whimsical book grounded in real life.
"Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle" written and illustrated by Claire A. Nivola
Reading level: Age 4 and up
With exquisite mixed-media paintings that are washed in the ocean's many deep blue hues, author Claire A. Nivola invites readers to study the magic of the undersea world and dive into the life of environmentalist Sylvia Earle. The story begins at Earle's childhood home on a farm in New Jersey and follows her as her family moves to the Gulf of Mexico's shores. The move inspires her career as a world-renowned oceanographer and protector of what she calls "the blue heart of the planet." The beautiful illustrations the conservationalist message inspire readers of all ages to preserve the ocean's bounty.
"Shark Lady: True Adventures of Eugenie Clark" written by Ann Mcgovern and illustrated by Ruth Chew
Reading level: Age 7 and up
Originally published in 1978, this still-in-print paperback is an oldie but a goodie. Peppered with pencil drawings, it's a chapter book that shares the history of a little girl named Eugenie who spent her Saturdays alone at the New York Aquarium while her mother went to work. In her spare time, she read up on fish -- especially her favorite one, the shark -- and soon began sharing fun facts with the homeless people who hung out around the tanks. "Shark Lady" relays the adventures of spunky Eugenie Clark as she grows up to become a world-famous ichthyologist, or fish scientist.
"Earth Heroes: Champions of the Ocean" written by Fran Hodgkins and illustrated by Cris Arbo
Reading level: Age 10 and up
Filled with realistic black and white drawings and chock full of facts, this is the perfect starter text for a serious marine biologist-in-training. It explores the scientific contributions of Jacque Cousteau, Sylvia Earle and Eugenie Clark and introduces readers to five more undersea experts. Among them are Archie Carr, who worked to save sea turtles, Margaret Wentworth Owings, a crusader for sea otters and other marine wildlife and Roger Payne, who is credited with the discovery that whales communicate by singing.