Jacques Cousteau was a French naval officer who pioneered marine conservation, photographed under the sea and wrote about it. His contribution to diving and the general population's knowledge of under the sea is immense. It is fitting that today's children should know about his contribution so here are three books in our library that I would recommend.
• Manfish by Jennifer Berne and Eric Puybaret
• The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jacques Cousteau by Dan Yaccarino.
These two picture books are biographies of his life, the first emphasising Jacques curiosity as a very young boy.
• Cousteau: an unauthorized biography by Kevin Comber is old and in our school it is in big book format. It was part of a series of big books put out by Era Publications and your school may well have a copy too. It is worth digging out! It has a lot of photographs in it and will give readers a sense of the time.
It is fitting that Jacques Cousteau's birthday is also the date that the Western world explorers, namely Captain James Cook discovered the Great Barrier Reef in 1770. He discovered it by accident when his ship, the Endeavour crashed into it and the coral ripped a hole in its bottom. Cook and his crew managed to stop the ship from sinking and made it to shore at what is now called Cooktown in the very north of Queensland. It took seven weeks to repair the ship and then their journey was resumed.
There are myriads of books about the Great Barrier Reef that show the wonder of coral and its underwater world. It is a pity though that so many of them are not Australian. It would be good to see some more Australian factual texts for very young children such as marine biologist Dr Mark Norman's The Great Barrier Reef Book: Solarpowered. For beautiful artwork and a sense of the wonder of the reef see Kim MichelleToft.