- Dinosaur Lady: The Daring Discoveries of Mary Anning, the First Paleontologist by Linda Skeers
Skeers, Linda Dinosaur Lady: The Daring Discoveries of Mary Anning, the First Paleontologist; illus. by Marta Álvarez Miguéns. Sourcebooks Explore, 2020 [40p] Trade ed. ISBN 9781728209517 $17.99 Reviewed from galleys R 5-8 yrs
Mary Anning, the early nineteenth century child who once helped supplement the family income by chipping fossils from the rock face in England, has made multiple picture book appearances. Skeers' compact telling of Anning's sadly delayed rise to scientific acclaim as what would now be called a paleontologist particularly commends itself to classroom use with its sharp focus on specific discoveries and their importance. Unearthing complete fossilized skeletons of Ichthyosaurus and Plesiosaurus "shattered the commonly held belief that the Earth was only six thousand years old"; realizing that the "odd, dark, lumpy pebbles inside skeletons" were "actually fossilized POOP!" would shed light on dino diet; experimenting with a dark substance inside an otherwise unremarkable looking fossil led to the conclusion that ancient aquatic creatures could squirt ink in self-defense. Miguéns' digital artwork is a bit too doll-like and polished to convey the rigors of working on cliffs over the English Channel, but the illustrated timeline that references scenes in the text is an effective recap. Fossil facts and an author's note are also included.