I am regrouping my daily schedule to plan for times to read. So, early this morning, I looked on my “to read right away” shelf and found Manfish: A Story of Jacques Cousteau by Jennifer Berne and illustrated by Eric Puybaret (2008 Chronicle Books). Berne writes for Nick Jr. and this is her first picture book. One of the things I look for in a new book is what happens after I finish. Do I want to read it again? Study the illustrations? Do some research? Tell someone else? If that is your measuring stick too, then, prepare yourself. That is exactly what you will feel after you read Berne’s book.
I am always on the lookout for picture book biographies and picture books for older readers. This book is both. Though the story could certainly be read to younger students, the style and font lean toward an older reader. Teachers of science can certainly use this book in their classes. One of my favorite uses of a PBOR is to proof the facts. Assign parts of the story to your students and have them verify the facts found in the book. Like all good writers, be sure to require more than one source, at least one in print. Be sure to check out the Cousteau Society website http://cousteau.org/.
Beautifully written and illustrated, readers will be inspired to do as Cousteau was often heard to say, “Il faut aller voir,” which translates from French to mean “We must go and see for ourselves.” I hope you will.