Rare Treasure: Mary Anning and Her Remarkable Discoveries

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9780618310814: Rare Treasure: Mary Anning and Her Remarkable Discoveries
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Before the word "dinosaur" was even coined, a young girl discovered a remarkable skeleton on the rocky beach at Lyme Regis in England. Thus began a lifelong passion for an extraordinary woman who became one of the first commercial fossil collectors. Born in 1799, Mary Anning spent a lifetime teaching herself about fossils and combing the rugged ribbon of shore near her home. Her work yielded an astounding treasure trove: fossils of long-extinct creatures that thrilled customers in her shop and excited early paleontologists. Blind to the dangers of fossil-hunting and to the limitations imposed on women of her era, Mary Anning was a singular scientist who used her sharp eyes and clear mind to compose a picture of ancient life from the bones she unearthed. With his trademark graceful prose and lyrical watercolors, Don Brown distills the life story of this rare treasure of a scientist.

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About the Author:

Don Brown is the award-winning author and illustrator of many picture book biographies. He has been widely praised for his resonant storytelling and his delicate watercolor paintings that evoke the excitement, humor, pain, and joy of lives lived with passion. School Library Journal has called him “a current pacesetter who has put the finishing touches on the standards for storyographies.” He lives in New York with his family.

From School Library Journal:

Grade 2-4-Two more picture-book biographies celebrate Mary Anning's bicentennial, recounting her childhood discovery of a complete ichthyosaur and noting her adult career as a self-taught paleontologist. Atkins follows the earlier lead of Catherine Brighton in The Fossil Girl (Millbrook, 1999) and Laurence Anholt in Stone Girl, Bone Girl (Orchard, 1999) as she focuses on the single year in which 11-year-old Anning slowly scraped the sand and stone of the Lyme Regis shore to uncover the huge reptile fossil. Her patience and persistence, are emphasized in a smoothly crafted narrative employing more fictionalized conversation and detail than any of the other books. Dooling's watercolors on textured paper employ a predominantly blue, gray, and brown palette conveying the loneliness of Anning's pursuit in this murky, seaside place. Like Brighton and Anholt, Atkins adds a final author's note commenting on Mary Anning's adult discoveries. Don Brown, in a smaller horizontal volume, omits such a note. His text quickly recounts Anning's childhood discovery of the ichthyosaur, and goes on to sketch a chronological account of the woman's entire life. The tan-and-blue watercolor scenes are less compelling than the bolder work in the other books, though several dramatic episodes punctuate the dangerous terrain in which Anning worked. The emphasis here is on the richness of spirit compensating for economic poverty. Both Stone Girl and Fossil Girl are more strongly realized and appealing works, but Sea Dragon reads well, and Rare Treasure is a competent simple biography. None of the writers reveal their actual sources of information on Anning's life. The tale of a child making such a distinctive discovery is inherently interesting, and the scientist's career is a worthwhile story, too. The array of books should attract a wide variety of readers and serve well in science classrooms.
Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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