Joan Procter was born in 1897 and grew up to be a scientist. But her love for animals, particularly those with scales, started when she was very young. Joan was not like the other girls. Whilst they played with dolls and read stories about princesses, she was fascinated by lizards and crocodiles. Whilst her friends partied, she would hang out at the National History Museum.
When war came, Joan found herself land a job as curator at the museum and in 1923, aged just twenty six, she became the curator of reptiles at London Zoo. She created a new reptile house that was filled with everything the reptiles would need to thrive and designed a reptile clinic where she would perform delicate surgeries. In her time at the zoo, she would oversee the arrival of two incredible Komodo dragons - a creature that was rumoured to be thirty feet long and as fast as a motorcar. Little was known about these creatures until they arrived but luckily the rumours were somewhat over-exaggerated.
This is a fascinating picture book biography about a scientist that I knew very little about. It is about one woman who had a passion for something as a child and whose passion turned into a marvellous and rewarding career. Sadly, her life was cut short by a childhood illness and she would die far too young. Her legacy lives on though and if you do ever find yourself at the London Zoo be sure to look for the marble bust of Joan just inside the Reptile House.
The book is expertly illustrated throughout with artwork by Felicita Sala. Included at the back of the book is a two-page written biography of the life and work of Joan and there is a fabulous sepia photograph of her and her small crocodile.
Recommended for 7+.