Jacques Cousteau

I LOVE the water! I love swimming in it and splashing in it and diving in it. Ocean, lake, river, swimming pool. Water is glorious!!

My Mom Person loves the water as well. When she was a little girl – and even a big girl – she worshiped a French man named Jacques Cousteau. She watched him on TV, she saw him in the movies, she read all his books.

We recently found, at our library!, a picture book biography of Mr Cousteau. The Mom Person was very excited!

IMG_1380The Fantastic Undersea Life of
by Dan Yaccarino
published by Alfred A. Knopf in 2009

This is a non-fiction book suitable for 1st grade and up

Themes – Jacques Cousteau, oceans, sea life, conservation

It begins –
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.

This book is a great introduction to the life of Mr Cousteau. Mr Yaccarino’s illustrations have the feel of the ocean about them. In 32 pages, he manages to present a life lived large. We learned about the trials Mr Cousteau overcame as a young man. We learned about his creative genius, about his aquatic inventions that enabled him and his followers to explore the depths of the ocean.  And we learned about his passion for the sea and all the creatures in the sea. I could feel his passion as we read the book. The book offers up quotations from Mr Cousteau interspersed with the text and the lovely pictures.

“When one man, for whatever reason, has the opportunity to lead an extraordinary life, he has no right to keep it to himself.”

IMG_1383Mr. Cousteau did enjoy a most extraordinary life and he did share that life generously. And now a new generation of youngsters can dream about swimming the ocean depths. I only wish that he had thought to invent a diving suit for a dog!

This book would fit in nicely with a unit on oceans or conservation. If you live close to a body of water it would be a fun field trip to go and study what you can see at the water’s edge. I know in my river there are always tiny fish and strange bugs and frogs and sometimes turtles. You might want to watch one of Mr Cousteau’s films.

Here is a little tidbit of what you might see from one of his films —

Here is a tidbit just for fun!

And now you might want to venture over to Ms Susanna Hill’s blog to find her list of Perfect Picture Books and lots of good resources for using those books! Happy Friday!!

Your friend in the water
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The Great Paper Caper

I have MORE OLIVER JEFFERS for you!!!! Today it’s —


The Great Paper Caper. Written and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers. Published by Philomel Books in 2008.
We read it with some 3rd graders and got to use dictionaries! It has some words and concepts that are a little tricky. Like – Caper and culprit and judges and alibis and prosecutors and trials and line-ups. We had some fun conversation, but you might want to consider these things when you think about who you’re going to read the book with.
It’s a crime mystery and a subtle story about conservation.


It begins in the forest where everyone lives underground under a tree. EVERYONE. The pig and the deer and the duck and the beaver and the boy. “There was a time in the forest …  when everything was not as it should have been.IMG_1527

*Tree branches were disappearing! Who could be the culprit?! All the forest animals had alibis. So they needed to investigate and look for clues.


In the meantime, while the forest folk are trying to figure it out, we see the bear chopping and hauling the wood, carrying paper, and flying paper airplanes. It seems that there is a paper airplane competition that he wants to enter. And why does he need all the trees? Because he needs LOTS of paper for his airplanes and he has a paper making machine in his house! The machine chops up the trees to make the paper for the paper airplanes!  Will the forest animals find this out? Will the prosecutor and the judge do their job? Will the bear win the contest? Will the forest be saved?


You’ll have to read the book and find out!!!

It’s a thriller!

The book has some instructions for making paper airplanes. We didn’t take the time to do this, but it would be a great, fun activity to do with a class.

You can find some good instructions here and here and here.
Here is a link to instructions for making your own paper
Here is a link to a website about paper, with history and educational materials.
Here is a link to  conservation resources for elementary school.
And here are some teacher ideas for this very book!

Now you can visit Susanna Hill and find a big list of great picture books along with helpful resources. It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday!.

And I’ll now leave you with a musical paper concert —