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SECRETS OF THE SEA by Evan Griffith


The Story of Jeanne Power, Revolutionary Marine Scientist

by Evan Griffith ; illustrated by Joanie Stone

Pub Date: March 9th, 2021
ISBN: 978-0-358-24432-5
Publisher: Clarion Books

Self-taught naturalist Jeanne Power invented methods to study marine organisms, defying prejudice against women to become a respected scientist.

After she’d married and moved to Sicily, in the early 1800s, the French former seamstress began studying the natural world around her, documenting her observations and devising ways to observe underwater creatures. She constructed an aquarium and filled it with animals found by local fishermen. She followed the life cycle of a paper nautilus—a kind of octopus—proving they create their own shells. She became the first female member of the science academy in Sicily. Later, she joined other societies, publishing research papers and defending her work. Griffith has applied years of editing experience to his debut picture book, selecting a career highpoint for his smoothly told narrative and offering more substance for slightly older readers in backmatter, including a note on contradictions he found in his research. Sources agree that Power overcame what might have been a catastrophic setback, the loss of years of research in a shipwreck, but disagree on its date. Other sections of the exemplary backmatter include a more-complete overview of her life and additional information about both the paper nautilus and the fields of marine biology and conservation. Stone’s bright illustrations depict an all-White cast; they have the flavor of 20th-century animation, fitting the positive tone of the text. Pair with biographies of Eugenie Clark. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.4-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 69.5% of actual size.)

An appealing introduction to a STEM trailblazer.

(bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 5-8)