Cousins of Clouds

Cousins of Clouds
Tracie's NEW BOOK!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jacques Cousteau

The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jacques Cousteau
by Dan Yaccarino
About the book:
From his first glimpse of the world under the ocean’s waves, he was hooked. And so he set sail aboard the Calypso to see the sea. Cousteau and his team of scientists invented diving equipment and waterproof cameras. They made films and television shows and wrote books so they could share what they learned. The oceans were a vast unexplored world, and Cousteau became our guide.
Now, in this inspiring biography, Dan Yaccarino introduces a whole new generation of ocean enthusiasts to the Captain. So strap on your goggles and dive into the fantastic undersea world of Jacques Cousteau!

About the author/illustrator:
Dan Yaccarino is an internationally acclaimed author-illustrator with more than thirty books to his credit, including Every Friday, Unlovable, and Dan Yaccarino’s Mother Goose. Exhibitions of his work have been held in New York, Los Angeles, Rome and Tokyo. Dan Yaccarino is also the creator of the animated TV series Willa’s Wild Life and Oswald. Mr. Yaccarino lives in New York City with his wife and two children. You can visit him on the Web at
Just by looking at the cover and reading the quote on the back of the book make predictions about what you think you’ll learn about Jacques Cousteau. Why do you think he might be important to learn about?
Discussion guide:
  1. Describe the Jacques’s childhood in France. How did his interests lead him into the sea?
  2. Why was Jacques told that he would have to wear braces for his whole life? How did he overcome it? What can you learn from his example?
  3. Explain how a pair of goggles changed Jacques life forever.
  4. Would you say Jacques Cousteau was more of an inventor or a scientist? What is the difference? Which would you rather be?
  5. What did Cousteau and his team invent? If you could invent anything what might it be? What would you explore with your new tool?
  6. Why did Cousteau want to film what was underwater? Where would you like to film?
  7. What was the Calypso? If you were on board where would you ask Cousteau to take you?
  8. Which invention do you think was his best work? Why? What other things did he create?
  9. Why do you think the author chose to write about these events in Cousteau’s life? What do you think he wanted us to learn from this famous scientist? Who would you choose to write about?
  10. Which one of Cousteau’s ideas did not have merit? Why? Do you think he was disappointed? Did he quit?
  11. What do you think is the most interesting thing that Cousteau discovered? Where would you like to explore? What might you discover?
  12.  Read the quotes from Cousteau (in circles) on the pages and discuss. Which one is your favorite? Why? Why do you think the author decided to include these into the book?
  13. Why do you think the author/illustrator chose this palette to represent Cousteau’s life? What colors would you choose to tell your own life story?
  14. Using this book as a mentor text for your own writing, what did you learn? Which lines stick out as especially good writing?
  15. What connections did you make while reading the story? What did this story make you wonder? What did you think about?

Across the curriculum:
Research one creature that Jacques Cousteau could’ve encountered in his many years researching the sea. Write about what you learned in at least three different genres.
Language Arts:
Research the life of another important scientist or environmentalist. Inspired by the work of Dan Yaccarino write the biography of that person and illustrate it too.

Choose quotes from the book that you think are important. Then, record your responses to the quote on the other side of the chart. Share and discuss.

Quotes from the book
What it made you think, feel or wonder…
Example quote “He saved his money and bought a camera…then took it apart to see how it worked.”

I would be too afraid to take something apart like this! I wonder if he was able to put it back together?

Math/ Geography:
Find a location on a world map that you would like to explore on The Calypso. Estimate the miles from your current location. Then find out the actual miles to this location. Estimate how much it would cost to get to your location and then research how much it would actually cost. Create three other estimation/actual questions you’d like to answer inspired by the book.
After studying the art of Dan Yaccarino create a piece of art about a setting you would most like to explore. Write a brief artist’s statement about the choices you made in color, style and design.

This guide was created by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer,