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Britmarine
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Skin Diving is for me

Sun Jun 01, 2014 10:42 am

Carole S. Briggs: (1981) Skin Diving is for me, Lerner Publications Company, Minneapolis. ISBN 0-82225-1132-0.
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I purchased this book as a first edition from the publisher's own premises in Minneapolis where I was spending a summer with my brother. As a retired secondary school teacher, I have always had a professional interest in getting the younger generation to catch the reading bug as early in their lives as possible. Skin diving is for me is a slender hard-back tome (48 pages) written by Carole Briggs, who spent her summers scuba diving in Tahiti and illustrated with numerous photographs taken by Carter Ayres, who dived the Great Barrier Reef and French Polynesia.

In spite of these exotic travel credentials, the book's setting is the Upper Midwest American state of Wisconsin. Briggs provides the reader with a 12-year-old girl's first-person account of her learning path in snorkelling from an outdoor pool in Madison to an open-water foray in Devil's Lake, WI. We witness her awkward start using her older brother's gear, her first visit to a dive store where she buys properly fitting gear, her success while retrieving and donning her gear at the bottom of the pool and her trip out of town to enjoy snorkelling in a State Park. The book ends as she and her family look forward to visiting Hawaii the following year.

The writing really does sound authentic, reproducing the language of a young person on the eve of her teens and conveying the protagonist's excitement as she masters new skills and copes with new experiences. Briggs is neither patronising nor sentimental, which are always dangers when an adult tries to get into the head of a child. The photographs complement the text wonderfully, illustrating each stage in the girl's progression rather than amounting to a collection of holiday snaps. So far as I know, this is the first piece of diving literature written from a young person's point of view. It is also refreshing that the protagonist should be a young female, when earlier juvenile diving literature centres almost exclusively on males in their later teens. It's great as well to see breath-hold diving being undertaken in home waters rather than foreign resorts. From a vintage diving perspective, it's also good to see an early 1980s volume without low-volume silicone-skirted masks or plastic-bladed fins.

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Ron
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Re: Skin Diving is for me

Mon Jun 23, 2014 8:49 am

David,

Thanks for writing this review. I have enjoyed reading previous reviews that you have written, and I like your writing style as well. It's always nice to read a review that contains a little authentic literary criticism :) Have you considered reviewing Dive: The Complete Book of Skin Diving, by Rick Carrier? I usually give that one as a gift due to its age, and the illustrations and content I find quite interesting as well.
The impossible missions are the only ones which succeed. -JYC

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Britmarine
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Re: Skin Diving is for me

Tue Jun 24, 2014 12:29 am

Thank you... I'm glad what I wrote was appreciated.

Yes, I guess "literacy criticism" is the response I've learned to give to all reading matter, including diving books, since studying modern foreign languages and literatures for my BA in the late 1960s. As for a review of "Dive", I believe I've responded to a thread or two on that subject, here or elsewhere, as I have copies of the first two editions of the book and value the first edition particularly highly, not least because of its extensive equipment appendix.

For the moment, I'll put the project on my "To do" list, which is growing. :D

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