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Children's Nonfiction Science & Technology

Ocean Speaks

How Marie Tharp Revealed the Ocean's Biggest Secret

by (author) Jess Keating

illustrated by Katie Hickey

Initial publish date
Jun 2020
Science & Technology, Girls & Women, Geography
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Jun 2020
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 4 to 8
  • Grade: p to 3


Meet Marie Tharp (1920-2006), the first person to map the Earth's underwater mountain ridge, in this inspiring picture book biography from the author of Shark Lady.

From a young age, Marie Tharp loved watching the world. She loved solving problems. And she loved pushing the limits of what girls and women were expected to do and be. In the mid-twentieth century, women were not welcome in the sciences, but Marie was tenacious. She got a job at a laboratory in New York. But then she faced another barrior: women were not allowed on the research ships (they were considered bad luck on boats). So instead, Marie stayed back and dove deep into the data her colleagues recorded. She mapped point after point and slowly revealed a deep rift valley in the ocean floor. At first the scientific community refused to believe her, but her evidence was irrefutable. She proved to the world that her research was correct. The mid-ocean ridge that Marie discovered is the single largest geographic feature on the planet, and she mapped it all from her small, cramped office.

About the authors

JESS KEATING est une auteure, bédéiste et zoologiste. Jess vit en Ontario.


As a zoologist and author, Jess Keating has been sprayed by skunks, bitten by crocodiles, and victim of the dreaded paper cut. Her books blend science, humor, and creativity, and include the acclaimed My Life Is a Zoo middle-grade trilogy and award-winning picture books, like Shark Lady and Pink Is for Blobfish. Jess lives in Ontario, Canada, where she loves hiking, nerdy documentaries, and writing books for curious and adventurous kids. Jess can be found online at or on Twitter at @Jess_Keating.

Jess Keating's profile page

Katie Hickey's profile page


  • Nominated, Rocky Mountain Book Award
  • Short-listed, Vancouver Children's Literature Roundtable - Information Book Award
  • Short-listed, Jane Addams Children's Book Award

Editorial Reviews

One of’s Best of the Year Picks
One of CCBC’s Best Books for Kids and Teens Fall 2020
One of Canadian Children's Book News’ Best Books of 2020
Listed on A Mighty Girl's 2020 Books of the Year
One of the Ontario Library Association's 2020 Best Bets selection, Junior Non-Fiction category
PRAISE FOR Ocean Speaks:

“A splendid homage to one of the science world's great thinkers.” --STARRED REVIEW, Shelf-Awareness

"Imaginative and attractive . . . the text clearly shows the intelligence, hard work, and quiet determination that led to [Tharp’s] success." --Booklist
An intriguing tale of feminism, scientific exploration, imagination, focus, and resilience." --Kirkus Reviews
“A wonderful introductory biography of a woman changing the world from behind the scenes.” --School Library Journal
“The text espouses curiosity and determination . . . These are pictures that reward the observant eye, a fitting choice for a book that honours the complexity and beauty of oceanographic cartography.” --Quill & Quire
“Tharp’s interesting story is effectively simplified for a young audience.” --Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“This exuberant new picture book . . . is a tribute to an influential yet little-known scientist and the power of perseverance!” --A Mighty Girl
“Young brains, meet a mapmaking hero.” --Bloomberg MapLab

Other titles by Jess Keating

Other titles by Katie Hickey

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