A debut children’s book describes the contributions of women past and present to paleontology in the United States.
Most kids are fascinated by fossils, especially of dinosaurs, but they may not know about the female experts who have helped advance the science of paleontology. As the book acknowledges, most workers in this field have been men, mainly because “many men did not think women should have jobs, go to college, or become scientists.” Nevertheless, they persisted. From Annie Montague Alexander (1867-1950) through Phoebe Cohen (“alive and digging!”), this volume highlights some of the female paleontologists’ greatest exploits. Alexander, for example, discovered the fossilized bones of a prehistoric marine reptile in 1903; with her companion Louise Kellogg, she donated more than 20,000 specimens to the University of California. In her book, Stricker offers approachable chunks of information in a friendly, graphic-novel format, which succeeds in making the pursuit of science sound like an exciting adventure. Though the work is keyed to young readers, nothing is dumbed down, and the author carefully shows why the paleontologists’ achievements were significant. Debut illustrator McGillis’ highly appealing and informative images strongly support the text; the women’s personalities come alive, and vivid details show historic and scientific context. About to flee Nazi Germany, a Jewish scientist, Tilly Edinger, reflects: “One way or the other, fossil vertebrates will save me.” She went on to found the field of paleoneurology.
Splendidly entertaining and informative—ideal for any kid interested in fossils.