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Into the Deep: The Life of Naturalist and Explorer William Beebe Hardcover – Bargain Price, July 1, 2009
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From School Library Journal
Grade 1–4—Considered the father of ecology and a member of the first crew to travel deep into the sea in a Bathysphere, Beebe was, at the time of his live radio broadcast from beneath the sea in 1932, a household name. Focusing on his childhood activities, his success as a very young man, and his best-known achievements, Sheldon keeps the book brief and fast moving. India ink gives a period feel to the large, bright illustrations. Smiling at an opossum in a nearby branch or watching with trepidation as a giant, unknown sea creature passes by the window of his Bathysphere, Beebe is always shown in the thick of exploration of the natural world. Helpful end matter includes an author's note with a cutaway view of the Bathysphere and a page of intriguing quotes from Beebe. A fine book for any aspiring scientist, this is a natural selection for those who have enjoyed Kathryn Lasky's One Beetle Too Many: The Extraordinary Adventures of Charles Darwin (Candlewick, 2009), Rosalyn Schanzer's What Darwin Saw: The Journey That Changed the World (National Geographic, 2008), and Alice B. McGinty's Darwin (Houghton, 2009).—Ellen Heath, Easton Area Public Library, Easton, PA END
August 1, 2009 Sheldon presents Beebe whose wide-ranging interest in the natural world led him from curatorial duties at the New York Zoological Park (aka the Bronx Zoo), to record-breaking deep dives in the armored bathysphere, and to becoming later in life a strong proponent for conservation as a dedicated scientist who was also a popular hero during the Great Depression, when many were in search of heroes. Why is Beebe still worth knowing? Because, the author argues, his books are still read (occasionally), he exerted a strong and continuing influence on the environmental movement, and, as depicted in staid but carefully detailed acrylics, he explored several still-mysterious and exotic reaches of our world. The author closes his short profile with a more detailed recap, a page of memorable quotes ('To be a naturalist is better than to be a king.'), and a short resource list. --Booklist
August 12, 2009 David Sheldon brings the excitement of being a naturalist and explorer to life for readers as he portrays the highlights from the life and times of explorer William Beebe. This large and beautifully illustrated book is ideal for sharing aloud or for a center in which students can explore further. This story details the life of this explorer and naturalist from his childhood years when he observed animals in New Jersey and became interested in birds, to his young adult years when he served as the assistant curator of birds at the New York Zoological Park, to his years of global travel when he continued to observe and learn about animals. The later half of the story delves into Beebe s fascination with the underwater animals of the oceans and seas. His interest in this area allowed him to team up with Otis Barton, who designed the bathysphere, which was tested by the pair over several attempts. Eventually Beebe and Barton, inside of the bathysphere, went deeper than anyone had been before ( 3,208 feet, where they encountered deep-ocean creatures for the first time ever in their natural setting). Among other notable features of this book are the illustrations that bring the text to life. Colorful, double-page drawings will help readers feel like they are part of the experiences in which Beebe was engaged. Also included are endnotes on the bathysphere, quotes Beebe made during his explorations, a glossary, and a list of additional resources. This book provides a realistic look into the explorations made by a single man and will help students see Science in the Human Perspective, as suggested in the National Science Education Standards. --National Science Teachers Association Recommends (nsta dot org)
June 1, 2009 Lifelong naturalist William Beebe is most famous for his record-breaking deep-sea dive. In 1934, he and partner Otis Barton descended 3,028 feet into the unexplored depths of the ocean in a bathysphere, invented for the purpose. This colorful introduction to Beebe's life for younger readers opens with his parent's encouragement of his interests in the natural world and his early work as a curator and collector of birds before he developed the idea of observing animals in their native habitat and began to focus on undersea life. Sheldon's lush double-page paintings, in acrylic, gouache and India ink, show young Will wurrounded by animals, alive and stuffed, and the older man at work in a variety of settings. They offer some gentle humor--as when explorer Beebe's hat blows off, revealing his balding head--and show Beebe aging gracefully. Although the dive is the focal point of the story, the author tracks this early ecologist's entire career. Backmatter includes further information, quotations from Beebe's writings, and a glossary and bibliography. A fine offering for would-be explorers. --Kirkus Reviews
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Top Customer Reviews
Although this is definitely a book for kids, I was impressed by some of little details that it included. One detail I especially liked is that Beebe's assistants Gloria Hollister and John Tee-Van appear in several of the illustrations of Beebe and his team onboard the ship from which they launched the Bathysphere. John Tee-Van is not actually identified in the book's text, but it's clearly recognizable as him from some of the photographs of him that I've seen, and it's nice that the author of this book thought to include him.
This book's illustration of the Bathysphere surrounded by deep-sea fish in the depths of the ocean is also obviously inspired by Else Bostelmann's 1934 painting of the same thing, which was published in Beebe's National Geographic article where he described his half-mile dive. I'm of two minds about this: one one hand, it's nice to see that Bostelmann's paintings are still an inspiration to modern artists, and it doesn't make a lot of sense to accuse someone of plagiarism from a painting that's over 70 years old. But on the other hand, I can't help but wonder whether the author could have come up with a way of depicting this that isn't so similar to how another artist has depicted it already.
There are also a few factual errors and omissions in this book. The factual errors are nothing major, but I was a little disappointed by some of the information that was left out.
-The "Diving Deeper into the Story" section of the book says that Beebe's first book was published in 1918. That isn't correct: his first book, Two Bird-lovers in Mexico, was published in 1905, and his second, The Bird, its Form and Function was published in 1906. 1918 was when the first volume of his most famous book, A Monograph of the Pheasants, was published. Although this was his most famous book, it wasn't his first.
-The illustration which is inspired by Bostelmann's painting shows light shining out of all three of the Bathysphere's windows. That wouldn't have been possible, because during all of Beebe and Barton's dives in the Bathysphere, they had a steel plug fitted in place of its third window. In fact, their attempt to install the third window is what caused the Bathysphere to leak and fill with pressurized water during one of its test dives, as shown in an earlier illustration. Their failure to make the Bathysphere watertight with the third window installed is why they never used it.
-Describing this failed test dive, the book says "If Will and Otis had been inside, they would have drowned." Actually, they probably wouldn't have had time to drown. When Beebe later described this incident, he pointed out that the extreme pressure of the water would have killed them almost instantly. (Although mentioning that might be a little too scary for a kids' book.)
There are a few other examples of things that aren't really errors per se, but still seem like unfortunate omissions.
-Although the book briefly talks about Beebe's early expeditions, it makes no mention of the most impressive of these, which was an expedition around the world from 1909 to 1911 documenting the world's pheasants. This really should have been mentioned. Other than his Bathysphere dives, this expedition might be Beebe's most famous accomplishment, and the monograph he wrote based on it received the National Academy of Sciences' Daniel Giraud Elliot Medal.
-The book doesn't mention Beebe's theory that the ancestors of birds passed through a four-winged stage in the early evolution of flight, which has been supported by the 2003 discovery of the feathered dinosaur Microraptor gui. Pointing this out is more of a nit-pick than the other criticisms, because Beebe's Tetrapteryx hypothesis also isn't mentioned in Carol Grant Gould's biography of him, which is probably the best book available about Beebe's life. Still, among modern paleontologists this theory is what Beebe is most remembered for, so it's unfortunate that it was left out.
I'm being more critical than necessary about this, because my standard for books written about William Beebe is pretty high. It's still a good book as children's books go, and the illustrations are detailed and well-painted. But if your kids enjoy this book, then when they get older I would recommend buying them one of the non-children's books that exist about Beebe, especially Carol Grant Gould's biography, The Remarkable Life of William Beebe: Explorer and Naturalist. There's a lot that's interesting about Beebe's life that Into the Deep doesn't mention at all.
William Beebe was born in 1877. His love of animals (wonderfully depicted in a picture of his bedroom which resembled a natural history museum) led him to become one of America's leading naturalists. His approach of observing animals in their natural habitats revolutionized scientific research and helped create the discipline we call ecology. He discovered countless species of birds and other animals in his 50 years of research. He also helped invent the bathysphere - opening the door to an underwater world that is still largely unexplored. The pictures of the deepsea creatures especially caught the children's attention.
This book is a wonderful introduction to an important (but not well known) scientist and the exciting field of natural science. It would be a perfect fit for children interested in science, animals, the oceans, and conservation.
In the late 1920s, Beebe partnered with an engineering student named Otis Brown to invent the Bathysphere, a spherical diving vessel made of thick steel that enabled deep-sea exploration at depths hitherto unimagined. Their observations of magnificent sea creatures provided fodder for entertaining radio broadcasts and motivated people to start caring more about the environment.
This biography gets high marks for its informative and crisp writing style. Children will be especially intrigued by the Bathysphere, a somewhat daunting and mysterious-looking contraption that involved quite a bit of danger as well. The text seamlessly weaves some key concepts in economics, including innovation and human resources, into the account of Beebe's scientific contributions. The colorful and detailed illustrations work well to engage young learners.