Solving the Puzzle Under the Sea: Marie Tharp Maps the Ocean Floor
by Robert Burleigh; Illustrated by Raúl Colón
Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books (January 5, 2016)
Audience: Grades 2nd to 5th
Nonfiction * Biography * Science/Technology
IndieBound | WorldCat
Description from GoodReads:
Filled with gorgeous illustrations by acclaimed artist Raúl Colón, this illustrated biography shares the story of female scientist, Marie Tharp, a pioneering woman scientist and the first person to ever successfully map the ocean floor.
Marie Tharp was always fascinated by the ocean. Taught to think big by her father who was a mapmaker, Marie wanted to do something no one had ever done before: map the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. Was it even possible? Not sure if she would succeed, Marie decided to give it a try.
Throughout history, others had tried and failed to measure the depths of the oceans. Sailors lowered weighted ropes to take measurements. Even today, scientists are trying to measure the depth by using echo sounder machines to track how long it would take a sound wave sent from a ship to the sea floor to come back. But for Marie, it was like piecing together an immense jigsaw puzzle.
Despite past failures and challenges—sometimes Marie would be turned away from a ship because having a woman on board was “bad luck”—Marie was determined to succeed. And she did, becoming the first person to chart the ocean floor, helping us better understand the planet we call home.
My thoughts on the book:
In honor of Women's History Month, I am featuring books all month about women who have made contributions to history or science.
This week I finally read Solving the Puzzle Under the Sea: Marie Tharp Maps the Ocean Floor. As a child, Marie learned about creating maps from watching her father draw maps.
Though it was not common for women to be scientists in the 1940's, Marie was determined to find something that would lead to a significant scientific discovery.
Along with Bruce Heezen, a colleague, Marie set out to map the seafloor. With meticulous work of comparing the various sound waves or soundings. Her research led her to discover a deep rift in the ocean floor. The work that Tharp did with Heezen took 20 years. It would take another 20 years before Tharp would receive full recognition for her work and contribution to science.
Burleigh made an interesting choice in telling the story with Marie as the narrator. At the end of the book, the author provides a one page summary of Marie Tharp's life with additional information not found in the narrative. Also, resources at the end of the book provide readers with links and books for further reading.
Other Biographies of Women:
Dare the Wind: The Record-Breaking Voyage of Eleanor Prentiss and the Flying Cloud by Tracey Fern; Illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully (Farrar, Strauss, & Giroux, 2014)
Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle by Claire A. Nivola (Farrar, Strauss, & Giroux, 2012)
Look for any of these at your local indie bookstore or public library.
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