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Review of Solving the Puzzle 
Under the Sea: Marie Tharp Maps the Ocean Floor

burleigh_solving the puzzle under the seaSolving the Puzzle Under the Sea: Marie Tharp Maps the Ocean Floor
by Robert Burleigh; 
illus. by Raúl Colón
Primary   Wiseman/Simon   40 pp.
1/16   978-1-4814-1600-9   $17.99
e-book ed. 978-1-4814-1601-6   $10.99

The duo behind Look Up!: Henrietta Leavitt, Pioneering Woman Astronomer spotlights another groundbreaking woman scientist: Marie Tharp, the oceanographic cartographer whose mapping of the Atlantic seafloor yielded key evidence confirming the theory of continental drift. Tharp holds the narrative reins here, and her voice, as imagined by Burleigh, generally rings true. As an adolescent, she describes her passion for maps and imagines one speaking to her: “Have an adventure. Explore. Discover something new” — a bold challenge for a young woman in the 1930s. Burleigh also touches on the discrimination Tharp faced. Applying for a position as a scientist, she is informed: “We don’t need any more file clerks.” A sexist boss won’t let her join ocean expeditions: “Having a woman on a ship is bad luck.” (No sources are provided for these quotes.) Burleigh’s writing is clear, conversational, and lyrical on occasion. He handles the science content well; it’s never too dry or overly technical. He also portrays scientists realistically, actively engaged in and arguing about their work. Colón’s illustrations, a textured wash of sea- and earth tones, are thoughtful and attractive and accurately reflect the time period. A final, memorable spread shows a contemporary girl looking over her shoulder at Tharp; it’s a subtle nod to Tharp’s importance as a role model, as well as to the importance of other women scientists, past, present, and future. Back matter includes further biographical details, a glossary of science vocabulary, a bibliography, websites (one with a slight error), and related activities.

From the January/February 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

About Tanya D. Auger

Tanya D. Auger is a former middle school teacher with a master’s degree in learning and teaching from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

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