Otis Barton and Will Beebe, unified in their scientific curiosity about the deep sea, team up to innovate the 5,000-pound bathysphere, making history in 1930 with their initial 800-foot dive.
The younger of the two, Barton sought out the famous explorer Beebe, correcting his prototypical calculations and sharing his own design. Rosenstock provides physical and logistical details, including how the two tall men fit themselves into a bolted-shut globe “the size of a tiny closet.” The narrative focuses on the drama, delivering bursts of information throughout the descent, as the crew above periodically halts progress to check the bathysphere’s cables. “300 feet. Stop. / ‘We’re leaking!’ Otis cried. A trickle seeped through the hatch door….Would a tiny leak stop?” At 800 feet, a double gatefold opens to the bathysphere, dwarfed by the expanse of ink-blue sea, its searchlight illuminating thick schools of fish, squid, and jellies. (The choice of a horizontal instead of vertical gatefold composition sidesteps an opportunity to visually dramatize the dangerous descent.) Roy’s multimedia paintings deliver plenty of contrasts, from boyhood scenes to events aboard the ship and undersea; endpapers depict creatures that dwell at several different ocean depths. Barton and Beebe are white; Roy depicts several male brown-skinned crew members and one white female research assistant.
Rosenstock and Roy’s collaboration celebrates scientific teamwork and an exciting first in deep-sea exploration. (author’s note, illustrator’s note, historical note, sources) (Informational picture book. 5-8)