The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jacques Cousteau - Thao Lam
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The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jacques Cousteau

The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jacques Cousteau

The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jacques Cousteau

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“Swimming, swimming in my swimming pool. Some days are hot, some days cold in my swimming pool. Breast stroke, side stroke and fancy diving too…” Keep reading…

This childhood song has been stuck in my head ever since I read Dan Yaccarino’s book, The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jacques Cousteau. All I can visualize is young Jacques Cousteau during bath time with swim trunks and snorkels, blowing bubbles.

As author and illustrator, Dan Yaccarino did an amazing job at capturing Cousteau’s lifelong fascination with the sea. Growing up in France, Cousteau was a sickly boy and was encouraged to take up swimming in order to build up his strength. Following doctor’s orders he soon discovered his love for water; Cousteau swam every day in the Mediterranean. The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jacques Cousteau chronicles the explorations, innovation, and his role as defender of the sea. The book is packed with historical facts and interesting tidbits about Cousteau’s various adventures and encounters, like the mischievous big grouper that adopted the crew while they were filming. Yaccarino effectively conveys Cousteau’s passion for the sea and his commitment to share its wondrous beauty with the world.

Far from feeling cold, dark and murky like the deep blue sea, Yaccarino’s illustrations are jammed with life and colour. Rendered in gouache and airbrush, he is able to convey the feeling of being underwater and the feeling of depth by layering semi-translucent paint. To create additional interest quotations from Cousteau are scattered throughout the book, appearing in circular insets, matching the circular bubbles within the art. Stylized with bold graphic shapes and patterns, Yaccarino creates a visual feast for the eye.

The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jacques Cousteau, a children’s book review by Thao Lam

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Author and Illustrator Dan Yaccarino

Raised in Montclair, NJ, Dan Yaccarino grew up in a household without any children’s books. His creative influence came from a combination of advertising, comic books, and packaging design. Upon graduating from NYC’s Parsons School of Design, Yaccarino worked as an editorial illustrator. Over the years he has worn many creative hats; children’s book illustrator, writer, director and producer an animated series. He is the creator of the tv animated series Oswald and the character designer for The Backyardigans for Nickelodeon. He has also made a move towards feature films by taking his existing books and adapting them into screenplays. As if he wasn’t busy enough, Yaccarino has illustrated many toys, games and other children’s products. You can also find his paintings and sculptures exhibited in galleries across New York City, Tokyo, and Rome.

I am always tickled pink when an author or an illustrator, takes time out of their busy schedule to reply to a fan mail.

“Like most people growing up in the ’70’s, I watched The Undersea World of Jacque Cousteau with rapt attention. With my new book, I wanted to bring Cousteau’s love and respect of the world’s oceans to a new generation and perhaps inspire a few to carry on where the good captain left off.”

– Dan Yaccarino –

To find out more about Dan Yaccarino, please visit his website: or

Publisher Knopf Books for Young Readers (March 24, 2009)

ISBN-10 0375855734

ISBN-13 978-0375855733