Ocean Speaks

Fresh off the heels of Marie’s Ocean, I bring you the second of two books about the life and discoveries of Marie Tharp (though this one was actually published first), Ocean Speaks: How Marie Tharp Revealed the Ocean’s Biggest Secret. I still find it amusing that not one but two children’s books about Marie Tharp got released within a year of my first exposure to her life story, in the form (of course) of The Amoeba People‘s awesome song about her. I’ve embedded the music video below; give it a watch if you’ve never seen it before!

Ocean Speaks is written by Jess Keating, author of Shark Lady, the story of shark scientist Eugenie Clark. I’ve heard good things about it, though sadly it would be a bit of a stretch to include it here at Dino Dad Reviews. (Coincidentally, the illustrator of Shark Lady, Marta Álvarez Miguéns, also happens to have illustrated the Mary Anning book Dinosaur Lady I recently reviewed!) Today’s book however features the illustrations of Katie Hickey, which are where this book really shines.

A young Marie accompanying her father in his work as a surveyor.

Hickey splashes each page with warm, colorful paintings that bringing an approachable, light-hearted feel to the book. The characters all feel highly expressive, and do much to convey the wonders and struggles of Marie’s experiences. I particularly liked the design choice of the fold-out page in the middle of the book, which in a rather metatextual sort of way nicely parallels Marie’s metaphorical dive into the ocean via her scientific data.

I couldn’t resist taking a fun themed shot of this fold-out page.

The text is somewhat light on information, mostly sticking to the broad strokes of Marie’s most famous discovery. While Marie’s Ocean goes into detail about Marie’s research, here the reader mostly just learns what Tharp did, rather than how. Additionally, while the infamous “girl’s talk” line of course gets mentioned, the book does not name the individual who uttered it, Bruce Heezen, thus also neglecting to mention that Marie managed to win him over in the end. Ultimately though, the broader brush treatment of Tharp’s research is fine for Ocean Speaks, as it clearly targets a slightly younger demographic than the more information-heavy Marie’s Ocean. (And for those who really want to know more, the author’s note in the back provides a good amount more detail anyway.) Keating nicely wraps up the key moments in Marie’s life into a memorable and easy-to-read story, perfect for younger grade school children.

I highly enjoyed Ocean Speaks. The story may go into less detail than the previous book I reviewed on Marie Tharp, but the illustrations never fail to draw me in. I might recommend introducing children to Tharp with this book, and then having them read Marie’s Ocean as well to get a better grasp on the details.

The study of continental drift forms a crucial part of our understanding of the prehistoric world, and so Marie Tharp stands as a key figure in the history of paleontology, despite not studying fossils herself. It brings me joy to see more people appreciating her contributions, and so I am pleased to give Ocean Speaks my Dino Dad Stomp of Approval! For more key figures in our understanding of prehistory, I recommend checking out Daring to Dig, She Found Fossils, Fossil Huntress, and Dinosaur Lady. Happy reading!

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