Stay curious and keep asking questions — you never know what you might discover! If you have a passion for something — pursue it.–Linda Skeers, Iowa Author
Imagine exploring sand and shore, finding amazing fossils, and fearlessly standing your ground. Those are all elements of Linda Skeers new picture book: Dinosaur Lady: The Daring Discoveries of Mary Anning, the First Paleontologist. (Illustrated by Marta Alvarez Miguens.) It was recently named an NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book for 2021.
Who is Mary Anning?
While few people may have heard of Mary Anning, her contributions to the field of paleontology were ground-breaking. She was the first to find Plesiosaurus and pterosaur bones, to study fossilized poop, to learn that early cephalopods squirted ink, and to discover the evolutionary link between sharks and rays. All the while, many of the men in her field discounted her work because she was a woman. And she did all of this within her short 48 years of life.
Skeers manages to pack all of this information and much more into 40 pages, packed with action verbs, bouncy description, engaging narrative, and insightful backmatter. It’s a perfect nonfiction picture book for readers of all ages.
For Skeers, the hours of research and writing were a labor of love. “Mary Anning was an incredible woman who spent her life looking for answers about the world around her,” said Skeers. “No matter what obstacles she faced, she persevered in her quest for knowledge. When she realized most scientific books about fossils were written in French, she simply taught herself to read French!”
We sat down with Skeers to ask three questions about the book.
Did you find any elements of STEM in Anning’s work?
Mary Anning had an insatiable curiosity to find the answers to questions she had about the fossils she uncovered. She made intricate and detailed scientific drawings and took copious notes — which she studied and discussed with others who were also fascinated by fossils. She almost single-handedly created the scientific field of paleontology through sheer perseverance!
What do you hope readers take away from this book?
Stay curious and keep asking questions — you never know what you might discover! If you have a passion for something — pursue it.
“When she realized most scientific books about fossils were written in French, she simply taught herself to read French!”–Linda Skeers
How could teachers incorporate this book into their curriculum?
There’s an Educator’s Guide to go along with the book with ideas and activities for teachers, parents and students. Here’s a link to the free PDF.
To find out more about Skeers’ books, visit her website: lindaskeers.com.