Journey Under the Arctic

Ages: 8 - 12Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry BooksAuthor: Fabien Cousteau and James O. Fraioli


Fabien Cousteau, deep-sea explorer, has assembled a team of scientists to travel through the Arctic Ocean. They seek the shy and intelligent dumbo octopus, so named for large flaps that look like ears. The team, which includes two junior explorers, first uses an ice-breaking ship to sail close to the North Pole, and then boards a submersible to explore far beneath the surface. In the process, they discuss how deep-sea creatures adapt to the frigid cold of the Arctic, what humans can learn from creatures like the dumbo octopus, and how the animals of the Arctic are threatened by climate change.

This science book, narrated in the form of a graphic novel, offers an appealing mixture of science and fiction; the junior explorers are fictional, but their conversations with real-life scientists (Cousteau is an ocean explorer, grandson of the famous Jacques Cousteau) prompt research-based explanations and illustrations of fascinating explanations of Arctic habitats and life forms. Cousteau’s passion for marine biology is enhanced by the graphic novel format, and the team’s conversations are peppered with information about how children can help to combat climate change. The explorers also spend time in an Inuit village, and these scenes raise more questions; the authors’ note thanks a French researcher for information about Inuit culture, but there is no indication that the authors reached out to any Inuit people for fact-checking and input on their representation. The main focus, however, is the wonder of the Arctic, and children who love to learn about sea creatures will find much to interest them in this book.


Naomi Lesley ©2020 Parents’ Choice

Naomi Lesley taught middle and high school English for six years. She is currently in a doctoral program at the George Washington University, focusing on American young adult literature.

Available here

Categories: ,