Solid, respectful scholarship tailored for mature, serious-minded young readers.

Before she became a trailblazing scientist, Mary Anning was a poor, young woman with no formal education.

Growing up, Anning loved exploring the beaches and cliffs of her native Dorset, a county in southwest England. Raised in the town of Lyme Regis, she was trained by her father to hunt for fossils. She became adept at removing the delicate bones of prehistoric creatures from rocks and preparing them for sale in her impoverished family’s fossil shop. At age 13, Anning made an extraordinary discovery—the first complete ichthyosaurus skeleton ever found; her older brother had earlier discovered its skull. Intelligent and fiercely determined, Anning educated herself by copying articles and drawings from scientific journals, and she learned anatomy through dissection. She achieved many remarkable breakthroughs that gradually advanced paleontological and geological knowledge: She found the first complete plesiosaur fossil; became the first British person to find a pterodactyl; and was the first person in the world to discover a squaloraja (an ancestor of the shark and ray) fossil. Anning rarely received recognition in her lifetime. Only near her death at age 47—due to breast cancer—did she finally gain fame and respect for her scientific contributions. This admiring tribute is well written and thoroughly researched. Its handsome design includes captioned, high-quality color and black-and-white paleoart, archival photos, and engravings as well as some of Anning’s sketches and excerpts from her correspondence with friends and fellow scientists. Each chapter opens with a quote, including three attributed to Anning. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Solid, respectful scholarship tailored for mature, serious-minded young readers. (author's note, timeline, glossary, notes, source quotes, bibliography, index) (Biography. 10-13)

Pub Date: Jan. 25, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-358-39605-5

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Clarion/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2021


From the They Did What? series

A breezy, bustling bucketful of courageous acts and eye-popping feats.

Why should grown-ups get all the historical, scientific, athletic, cinematic, and artistic glory?

Choosing exemplars from both past and present, Mitchell includes but goes well beyond Alexander the Great, Anne Frank, and like usual suspects to introduce a host of lesser-known luminaries. These include Shapur II, who was formally crowned king of Persia before he was born, Indian dancer/professional architect Sheila Sri Prakash, transgender spokesperson Jazz Jennings, inventor Param Jaggi, and an international host of other teen or preteen activists and prodigies. The individual portraits range from one paragraph to several pages in length, and they are interspersed with group tributes to, for instance, the Nazi-resisting “Swingkinder,” the striking New York City newsboys, and the marchers of the Birmingham Children’s Crusade. Mitchell even offers would-be villains a role model in Elagabalus, “boy emperor of Rome,” though she notes that he, at least, came to an awful end: “Then, then! They dumped his remains in the Tiber River, to be nommed by fish for all eternity.” The entries are arranged in no evident order, and though the backmatter includes multiple booklists, a personality quiz, a glossary, and even a quick Braille primer (with Braille jokes to decode), there is no index. Still, for readers whose fires need lighting, there’s motivational kindling on nearly every page.

A breezy, bustling bucketful of courageous acts and eye-popping feats. (finished illustrations not seen) (Collective biography. 10-13)

Pub Date: May 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-14-751813-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Puffin

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015


The author of The Snake Scientist (not reviewed) takes the reader along on another adventure, this time to the Bay of Bengal, between India and Bangladesh to the Sundarbans Tiger Preserve in search of man-eating tigers. Beware, he cautions, “Your study subject might be trying to eat you!” The first-person narrative is full of helpful warnings: watch out for the estuarine crocodiles, “the most deadly crocodiles in the world” and the nine different kinds of dangerous sharks, and the poisonous sea snakes, more deadly than the cobra. Interspersed are stories of the people who live in and around the tiger preserve, information on the ecology of the mangrove swamp, myths and legends, and true life accounts of man-eating tigers. (Fortunately, these tigers don’t eat women or children.) The author is clearly on the side of the tigers as she states: “Even if you added up all the people that sick tigers were forced to eat, you wouldn’t get close to the number of tigers killed by people.” She introduces ideas as to why Sundarbans tigers eat so many people, including the theory, “When they attack people, perhaps they are trying to protect the land that they own. And maybe, as the ancient legend says, the tiger really is watching over the forest—for everyone’s benefit.” There are color photographs on every page, showing the landscape, people, and a variety of animals encountered, though glimpses of the tigers are fleeting. The author concludes with some statistics on tigers, information on organizations working to protect them, and a brief bibliography and index. The dramatic cover photo of the tiger will attract readers, and the lively prose will keep them engaged. An appealing science adventure. (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-618-07704-9

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2001

Close Quickview