The Depth-Defying Diving of Messrs. Beebe and Barton
From the "Unhinged History" series
by ; illustrated by
Age Range: 5 - 8
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A rhyming account of the invention of the bathysphere.

Fascinated by the ocean depths, Will Beebe dives in to invent a way to explore beyond the shallow depths that diving equipment of the 1920s allows. His designs and “silly proposals and doodles” from other inventors go “straight to the trashcan,” however, until Otis Barton gets involved. Barton, an engineer, “[has] his heart set on—PLOP!—disappearing / Beneath the sea’s surface and breaking all records / For deepness” and knows that Beebe’s “soda-can shape” will crumple under deepwater pressure. Beebe adopts Barton’s stronger, spherical design, and, luckily, Barton’s family is rich enough to fund its construction. Despite personality clashes, minor design failures, seasickness, and the Great Depression, Beebe and Barton create a two-person vessel that descends almost a half mile. Today, the original bathysphere is displayed outside the New York (City) Aquarium. Next to Barb Rosenstock’s prose account in Otis & Will Discover the Deep (illustrated by Katherine Roy, 2018), Enik’s playfully rhyming couplets feel lightweight, but the backmatter, which includes the bathysphere’s schematic, a timeline of human diving progress, and a biography of Gloria Hollister (the first mate and recorder on deck), provides some heft. Cartoon illustrations portray Beebe, Barton, and Hollister as white adults.

Per the series promise, a slightly “unhinged” celebration of daring diving developments. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 28th, 2019
ISBN: 978-0-7643-5793-0
Page count: 48pp
Publisher: Schiffer
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 2019