Working in a time when women were still unwelcome in her field, Marie Tharp mapped the ocean floor and provided convincing evidence for the previously rejected hypothesis of continental drift.
Burleigh's choice to write in Tharp’s voice makes the determined geologist’s story feel immediate, focusing tightly on her map that revealed the spreading Atlantic sea floor. He notes obstacles she overcame: a peripatetic childhood; gender discrimination; the superstition, still prevalent in 1948, that women were unlucky on ships; and disagreements about the drift theory even with her friend and colleague Bruce Heezen. There’s a short description of Tharp’s mapmaking process and a triumphant conclusion when the final, color version is published. But it’s Colón's watercolor-and-pencil illustrations that bring her story alive. Readers see the map-loving child, ships taking the soundings that provided her data, the cartographer with pencil in hand, both graphing and drawing, and, in a wordless double-page spread, the exciting revelation of the rift in the middle of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. The distinctive combed swirls of Colón's art masterfully suggest light on a seascape, and people are realistically depicted. Backmatter includes more of Tharp’s story, useful vocabulary, bibliography and Internet links, and even “things to wonder about and do.”
An ideal introduction to a lesser-known scientist and an important understanding about how the Earth works. (Informational picture book. 5-9)