SOLVING THE PUZZLE UNDER THE SEA, by Robert Burleigh, Illus. by Raul Codon
Publication Date, January 2016
"Working in a time when women were still unwelcome in her field, Marie Tharp mapped the ocean floor and provided convincing evidence for the previously rejected hypothesis of continental drift.
Burleigh's choice to write in Tharp’s voice makes the determined geologist’s story feel immediate, focusing tightly on her map that revealed the spreading Atlantic sea floor. He notes obstacles she overcame: a peripatetic childhood; gender discrimination; the superstition, still prevalent in 1948, that women were unlucky on ships; and disagreements about the drift theory even with her friend and colleague Bruce Heezen. There’s a short description of Tharp’s mapmaking process and a triumphant conclusion when the final, color version is published. But it’s Colón's watercolor-and-pencil illustrations that bring her story alive. Readers see the map-loving child, ships taking the soundings that provided her data, the cartographer with pencil in hand, both graphing and drawing, and, in a wordless double-page spread, the exciting revelation of the rift in the middle of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. The distinctive combed swirls of Colón's art masterfully suggest light on a seascape, and people are realistically depicted. Backmatter includes more of Tharp’s story, useful vocabulary, bibliography and Internet links, and even “things to wonder about and do.”
An ideal introduction to a lesser-known scientist and an important understanding about how the Earth works."
-Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"In this excellent biography of scientist Marie Tharp, Burleigh, writing in the first person, allows this adept geologist and oceanographic cartographer to tell her own story. Map lover Tharp became one of the 20th-century's most important scientists, despite working in a field that greatly favored men. With fellow geologist Bruce Heezen, she mapped the world's oceans. Colón's signature softly hued, textured watercolors greatly enhance the text. One image depicts a research ship in the water upon which scientists took measurements called soundings to chart the ocean's depth. The writing is accessible and immediate, and though Burleigh acknowledges that Tharp was a woman working in a man's field, he casts her story in a happy, upbeat light. A biographical page is appended, as well as thorough back matter. VERDICT A finely told, beautifully illustrated biography that saves a world class scientist from obscurity."