NONFICTION

Marie’s Ocean: Marie Tharp Maps the Mountains Under the Sea

Holt/Christy Ottaviano Bks. Sept. 2020. 48p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781250214737.
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K-Gr 3–James’s picture book biography spotlights Marie Tharp, a white geologist and oceanographic cartographer who helped revolutionize scientific knowledge of the earth. The first-person narration clearly explains the connections between aspects of Tharp’s childhood, controversial scientific theories, and the sexism that kept her from conducting field research. Tharp’s ambition and independent spirit are quite evident. Using direct quotes (sourced in the back matter) and real images (some created by Tharp, also sourced in the back matter), James paints a vivid narrative portrait of her subject. This title excels in the scientific explanation of Tharp’s work of translating sonar data. She utilized math and geology to create a revolutionary map of the ocean floor, which added significant evidence to further validate the theory of plate tectonics. Speech bubbles and panels allow readers to connect with the humanity and personality of Tharp. Readers will also gain a better understanding of the science and math concepts that were used to make this map. Other recent biographies (Ocean Speaks by Jess Keating and illustrated by Katie Hickey; Solving the Puzzle Under the Sea by Robert Burleigh and illustrated by Raúl Colón) would pair well with this title.
VERDICT James provides a deep dive into the STEM concepts and the detailed process that Tharp employed to show the world what lies at the bottom of our oceans. Highly recommended for public and school libraries.

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