Solving the Puzzle Under the Sea

February 4, 2019

The ocean in its vast beauty has a world of its own. Mountains and crevices invite creatures to reside, maneuver, and blend. Snorkelers gain a glimpse of the beauty hidden from the wavy surface. Stories and movies have the ocean as its setting. Robert Burleigh brilliant biography introduces you to the beginning of oceanography in his book, Solving the Puzzle Under the Sea: Marie Tharp Maps the Ocean Floor, illustrated by Raul Colon.

Science didn’t know much about the ocean floor. It was once thought to be unmoving. Marie Tharp changed that thinking – but not without opposition. Her ideas were different, challenged, and not accepted quickly. Marie loved maps. Her father drew maps of our American landscapes from state to state. She used this passion in her job.

View the book trailer here.

Marie spent twenty years gathering data brought back from deep ocean adventures, of which she was excluded from because she was a female. (I was surprised at this.)  Marie was determined and persisted. The data proved the possible theory of the continental drift. She turned her data into a picture – a map, a map featuring changes in the oceans floor. Although many still didn’t agree, eventually, Marie’s maps, the ocean floor picture, are the foundation for the knowledge people have today.

To see actual photos of Marie Tharp and an overview of her scientific life, view this 2 min. video clip.

Dr. Nicky Howe portrays herself as Marie Tharp in 2015 Reading Slam. What a fun way for kids to get to know the character and be introduced to the ocean world.

Savorings for reading and writing for Solving the Puzzle Under the Sea:

  • Rich language
  • Biography
  • Persistence – not giving up, working against odds
  • Believing in herself
  • Asking Questions
  • Pursuing Dreams

Nine Lives – a Dog?

August 28, 2009

Cats have nine lives; dogs do not.  When I pulled the book at the library, I was puzzled by the title, The Nine Lives of Dudley Dog.  It immediately got me questioning.  How can a dog have nine lives?  Throughout the story, your students will be wondering – what’s going to happen next?

John and Ann Hassett spin a tale that begins with a little girl’s, Sister’s, birthday.  Sister’s heart is set on having a cat.  Mistakenly, a dog appears from the gift box.  The illustrated faces show the apparent distaste and dismay for the dog.  Dudley doesn’t seem to care.  He springs from the window on a wild chase after… a cat.  The Nine Lives of Dudley Dog

 A mathematical twist is added to the story.  In each scene, another cat is added to the chase.  The number symbol representing the number of cats is on some object on the page. 

Symbolism is sprinkled in as Dudley creates an accident, a life-threatening situation.  A repeated scolding occurs from the passerbyers. 

Firefighters plucked Dudley from the smoke.  “Bad dog,” scolded a fireman.  “Do you think you have nine lives like a cat?”

The ending left me questioning, slightly puzzled, wondering.  Rereading is essential.  Dudley runs into a circus and chases “cats with stripes”.  One tiger is licking his lips.  Hmmm….  Upon turning the page, a cat with similar markings to Dudley, returns home to Sister – making her birthday wish come true.

Savorings for reading and in writing for The Nine Lives of Dudley Dog:

  • Repeated structure
  • Asking Questions – Even the cover picture makes you wonder.  After reading the story, I had to reread and connect the clues.  The title page helped me to connect (at least speculate) the answer to the ending.
  • Rereading for comprehension
  • Math – numbers sprinkled in with each scene

(Warsaw Public Library)