RARE TREASURE

MARY ANNING AND HER REMARKABLE DISCOVERIES

Anning’s life has proven irresistible for picture-book creators in recent months, with Catherine Brighton’s The Fossil Girl (p. 627) and Laurence Anholt’s Stone Girl, Bone Girl (p. 62) among the entries. Brown (One Giant Leap, 1998, etc.) opens with the thrilling incident from Mary’s infancy: while her nursemaid and two companions died under a tree struck by lightning, Mary survived. Taught by her father to hunt for fossils on the rocky beaches and cliffs near Lyme Regis, Mary continued to do so after his death, to help support herself and her family. Without formal education, she studied and read and always pursued fossils, despite physical danger. Richard Owens, the scientist who coined the word “dinosaur,” came to hunt fossils with her. Brown’s prose has a light and poetic touch, and his watercolors, with their dramatic vistas, small figures, and fossil sketches, suit the tone nicely. He effortlessly imbues a small, appealing package with a lot of information, and a little inspiration besides. (Picture book/biography. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-395-92286-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1999

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THE PUMPKIN BOOK

The Pumpkin Book (32 pp.; $16.95; Sept. 15; 0-8234-1465-5): From seed to vine and blossom to table, Gibbons traces the growth cycle of everyone’s favorite autumn symbol—the pumpkin. Meticulous drawings detail the transformation of tiny seeds to the colorful gourds that appear at roadside stands and stores in the fall. Directions for planting a pumpkin patch, carving a jack-o’-lantern, and drying the seeds give young gardeners the instructions they need to grow and enjoy their own golden globes. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 1999

ISBN: 0-8234-1465-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1999

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SILVER RAIN BROWN

The hazy hot summer seems interminable for a young African-American boy and his pregnant mother. “Can’t cool down!” is the refrain that reverberates throughout the tale, and it’s literally true; lack of rain has put the city on a water conservation alert and the mother worries about all her flowers. Instead of despairing, mother and child surreptitiously water the plants using kitchen pots under the cloak of darkness; the theme of personal resilience and coping permeates the tale. A cooling, life-giving rain heralds the onset of the mother’s labor and the arrival of a new baby sister, Silver Rain Brown. The special bond between mother and son is readily apparent in Flavin’s full-page, full-color illustrations. As for the father, there is only one reference for readers to interpret: “Four a.m. and I can’t sleep, wishing Daddy would come back, wishing, wishing it would rain.” Helldorfer deftly captures the heavy oppressiveness of a summer heat wave, from children attempting to fry eggs on the sidewalk to short tempers and sleeping the hot days away, while Flavin’s illustrations artfully reflect the shimmering cityscapes. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-395-73093-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1999

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