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THE AQUANAUT by Jill Heinerth


by Jill Heinerth ; illustrated by Jaime Kim

Pub Date: Jan. 19th, 2021
ISBN: 978-0-7352-6363-5
Publisher: Tundra Books

As a child, the world seems very dangerous for young Jill. How does her imagination lead her to become an underwater explorer?

In the spirit of girl power, this title reflects on the rare life of a female cave diver and underwater photographer. Aquanaut and author Heinerth looks back at the childhood memories that shaped her career. The pages alternate between depictions of the round little girl and the adult diver in parallel situations. The young White girl, with brown bangs held back by a red bandana, gives a hand to someone who fell off a bike. The accompanying first-person narration states that little Jill “wanted to help others.” A turn of the page shows the grown-up diver releasing a trapped turtle from entanglement in a net. With double-page spreads brimming with color and cheer, the illustrations tie the motivations of a timid child to the underwater fulfillment of the adult. Moving back and forth in time, the narrative describes how the little girl strove to conquer her fears. Her success as an adult proves that she did. While the illustrations entertain, however, the text examples are a little ho-hum, ceding to the illustrations the task of conveying the magic of cave diving. Luckily, the author’s note helps to mitigate that, and accompanying photographs pack some punch. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.25-by-19-inch double-page spreads viewed at 13.5% of actual size.)

With delightful illustrations, this is a calming way to inspire timid children to realize exciting dreams.

(Picture book. 5-8)