OCEAN SPEAKS

HOW MARIE THARP REVEALED THE OCEAN'S BIGGEST SECRET

An intriguing tale of feminism, scientific exploration, imagination, focus, and resilience.

A scientific journey through sexism and across the ocean floor.

Marie Tharp (1920-2006) grew up fascinated with the natural world but as a girl was not allowed to study it. The accessible text focuses on general rather than specific historical detail but provides overall context; when war broke out and women were encouraged to learn about science, she welcomed the opportunity and eventually landed a job in a laboratory. As male scientists returned home, however, they were sent to do research while women such as Tharp were confined to desks. But Tharp was charged with creating a map of the ocean floor, a project that engaged her skills and imagination and led to her identification of a great rift, information that was initially dismissed as “girl-talk” and eventually revolutionized earth science. Engaging and inventive illustrations, including one fabulous foldout that depicts her expanding map, show her gradually becoming the skilled scientist and ocean cartographer she is recognized as today. Tharp presents white and race goes unmentioned, though there are darker-skinned people depicted in the background. The narrative doesn’t mention what Keating places in her author’s note: that when findings were first published, Tharp received little or no credit. Still this is a story that will doubtlessly inspire curiosity and consideration of the many forms of exploration and scientific inquiry while showing how one woman was able create new knowledge despite sexist constraints.

An intriguing tale of feminism, scientific exploration, imagination, focus, and resilience.  (Q&A, further reading) (Picture book/biography. 6-10)

Pub Date: June 30, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7352-6508-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Tundra Books

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

BUTT OR FACE?

A gleeful game for budding naturalists.

Artfully cropped animal portraits challenge viewers to guess which end they’re seeing.

In what will be a crowd-pleasing and inevitably raucous guessing game, a series of close-up stock photos invite children to call out one of the titular alternatives. A page turn reveals answers and basic facts about each creature backed up by more of the latter in a closing map and table. Some of the posers, like the tail of an okapi or the nose on a proboscis monkey, are easy enough to guess—but the moist nose on a star-nosed mole really does look like an anus, and the false “eyes” on the hind ends of a Cuyaba dwarf frog and a Promethea moth caterpillar will fool many. Better yet, Lavelle saves a kicker for the finale with a glimpse of a small parasitical pearlfish peeking out of a sea cucumber’s rear so that the answer is actually face and butt. “Animal identification can be tricky!” she concludes, noting that many of the features here function as defenses against attack: “In the animal world, sometimes your butt will save your face and your face just might save your butt!” (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A gleeful game for budding naturalists. (author’s note) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: July 11, 2023

ISBN: 9781728271170

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks eXplore

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2023

MORE THAN PEACH

An inspirational look at one girl’s quest to make sure that all skin tones are visible and available in the classroom.

A Black girl’s simple observation propels her into activism.

Woodard, who launched the More Than Peach Project—which arranges for classrooms and children in need to receive kits that include art supplies and boxes of multicultural crayons (crayons in a variety of skin tones)—relates the incident that sparked her journey. As the book begins, she is dropped off at school and notices that her family’s skin tone differs from that of her classmates. While it is clear that she is one of a few children of color at school, that difference isn’t really felt until her friends start asking for the “skin-color” crayon when they mean peach. She’s bothered that no one else seems to notice that skin comes in many colors, so she devises a unique way of bringing everyone’s attention to that fact. With support from her family and her school, she encourages her fellow classmates to rethink their language and starts an initiative to ensure that everyone’s skin tone is represented in each crayon box. Appealing, realistic artwork depicts Woodard’s experiences, while endpapers feature More Than Peach crayon boxes and childlike illustrations of kids of different ethnicities doing various activities. The story is stirring and will motivate budding activists. (This book was reviewed digitally; the review has been updated for factual accuracy.)

An inspirational look at one girl’s quest to make sure that all skin tones are visible and available in the classroom. (note from Woodard, information on Woodard’s journey into activism, instructions on starting a drive) (Picture-book biography. 6-10)

Pub Date: July 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-80927-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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