When I think of palaeontologists I think of Ross Geller from the TV show ‘Friends’. I’m not ashamed to admit that this is about the extent of my knowledge when it comes to famous fossil hunters so I was intrigued to see what I might learn as I opened up the latest addition to the ‘Little People, Big Dreams’ series.
Mary Anning was born into a large and poor family, she was the tenth Anning child. She enjoyed spending her childhood days accompanying her father on cliff walks and seeing what she could find. To earn some money, she would sell her finds on the beach to the wealthy beach-goers who were fond of a treasure to take back home. It was one of Mary’s customers that would give her a book that would change her life. It helped her uncover the truth about one of her beach discoveries and from then on fossil hunting became a way of life.
Anning was an incredible young person. With a limited classroom education she had to teach herself how to read and write. And unable to go to university, most of what she knew about fossils was down to her own reading, drawing and note-taking. Equipped with the knowledge that she needed, Mary Anning grew up to become the first female palaeontologist and is rightly known as ‘the Mother of Palaeontology’. Being a female fossil hunter in the early 19th century was far from easy though and Anning experienced social injustice, much of her work was not widely acknowledged at the time. Scientists would use her for information and then publish books using her knowledge and claiming it as their own.
Despite this, Anning never stopped doing what she loved. She had a passion and was not fussed that she didn’t receive fame or fortune. For her it was all about doing something that made her happy and the world of today is very thankful for the discoveries that she made in the past. Mary Anning's attitude is such a wonderful message for young children - simply do what you love and makes you happy!
Delightfully illustrated with bright and bold artwork and with a story told in short and simple sentences, this is a great read about a woman who followed her passions and uncovered history. At the back of the the book there is a short overview of her life which includes key facts and dates and a historical timeline featuring photographs.
A fabulous and very informative read that will have budding palaeontologists heading outside to see what they can find buried in the ground.
Recommended for 5+.
Due for publication on 9th March 2021. With thanks to Netgalley and Frances Lincoln Publishers for the ARC.