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Mary Anning and the Sea Dragon Hardcover – September 14, 1999


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 5 - 10 years
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten and up
  • Lexile Measure: 560L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR); 1st edition (September 14, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374348405
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374348403
  • Product Dimensions: 0.3 x 8.7 x 11.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,185,173 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

While Don Brown's Rare Treasure (reviewed above) took a larger view of Mary Anning's life and work, Atkins zooms in on the girl's first major discovery (at age 12), igniting the scientist's lifelong vocation. Though the narrative begins after the death of Mary's father, his words are still very much alive in her: "Don't ever stop looking, Mary." She knows there is something hidden in the cliffs of Lyme Regis, something more than just the shells and stone sea lilies that the tourists buy from her family's "Gifts and Curiosities" shop. And Mary isn't about to let the townspeople's gossip and criticism of her hammer, chisel and sturdy top hat (worn for protection from falling rocks) stop her. When she unearths a tooth embedded in a stone, Mary spends months tapping and brushing, chiseling and digging, unearthing a face almost four feet long. Atkins (A Name on the Quilt) presents a sensitive if romanticized portrait of the real-life discoverer of the first complete ichthyosaur fossil. Dooling's (George Washington) illustrations help establish the early-19th-century setting, particularly his atmospheric oil paintings of fog-enshrouded seascapes, but the portraits of Mary don't convey much emotional range. Still, the patience and dogged determination of the unconventional Mary shines through, making her story one not only for dinosaur-lovers, but for those who appreciate stories of strong girls as well. Ages 5-up. (Sept.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 2-4-Two more picture-book biographies celebrate Mary Anning's bicentennial, recounting her childhood discovery of a complete ichthyosaur and noting her adult career as a self-taught paleontologist. Atkins follows the earlier lead of Catherine Brighton in The Fossil Girl (Millbrook, 1999) and Laurence Anholt in Stone Girl, Bone Girl (Orchard, 1999) as she focuses on the single year in which 11-year-old Anning slowly scraped the sand and stone of the Lyme Regis shore to uncover the huge reptile fossil. Her patience and persistence, are emphasized in a smoothly crafted narrative employing more fictionalized conversation and detail than any of the other books. Dooling's watercolors on textured paper employ a predominantly blue, gray, and brown palette conveying the loneliness of Anning's pursuit in this murky, seaside place. Like Brighton and Anholt, Atkins adds a final author's note commenting on Mary Anning's adult discoveries. Don Brown, in a smaller horizontal volume, omits such a note. His text quickly recounts Anning's childhood discovery of the ichthyosaur, and goes on to sketch a chronological account of the woman's entire life. The tan-and-blue watercolor scenes are less compelling than the bolder work in the other books, though several dramatic episodes punctuate the dangerous terrain in which Anning worked. The emphasis here is on the richness of spirit compensating for economic poverty. Both Stone Girl and Fossil Girl are more strongly realized and appealing works, but Sea Dragon reads well, and Rare Treasure is a competent simple biography. None of the writers reveal their actual sources of information on Anning's life. The tale of a child making such a distinctive discovery is inherently interesting, and the scientist's career is a worthwhile story, too. The array of books should attract a wide variety of readers and serve well in science classrooms.
Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Jeannine Atkins's most recent book is VIEWS FROM A WINDOW SEAT: THOUGHTS ON WRITING AND LIFE. She's also the author of eleven books for young readers, including BORROWED NAMES: POEMS ABOUT LAURA INGALLS WILDER, MADAM C. J. WALKER, MARIE CURIE AND THEIR DAUGHTERS. She teaches Children's Literature at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and writing at Simmons College.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Frank Murphy on June 23, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Atkins and Dooling have created a beautiful picture book that girls and boys will love. Mary Anning's story is becoming more well known now with two other recently released picture books (by Laurence Anholt and Don Brown). Dooling's illustrations are vivid, colorful, real and beautiful!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 22, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The story of Mary Anning is certainly not well known, at least in the US and outside of the field of paleantology. This book gives a perspective of what it's like to have a fascination which turns into a career. It is especially encouraging to young women who want to explore a variety of careers.
The illustrations capture a life in England at the sea in the early 1800's. Beautifully done!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Z Hayes HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 29, 2011
Format: Hardcover
My six-year-old daughter is very keen on learning about and collecting fossils. We have been devouring as many books on the subject as we can and after reading Tracy Chevalier's Remarkable Creatures: A Novel, I was hoping to find some kid-friendly books about pioneer fossil hunters.

There are several books written about Mary Anning, covering either her life's work or her youth. This book focuses on the young Mary Anning's painstaking and patient efforts in uncovering a prehistoric reptile fossil by the Lyme Regis shore. My young daughter and I were impressed by the descriptions of Anning's diligent efforts, carried out mostly in solitude. The watercolor illustrations by Michael Dooling paints a rather bleak picture of the landscape which serves to highlight Anning's solitary efforts.

Mary Anning was a pioneer of fossil discovery and her perseverance and patience serves as a great role model for young children. Also recommended are The Fossil Girl: Mary Anning's Dinosaur Discovery by Catherine Brighton; Stone Girl Bone Girl: The Story of Mary Anning by Laurence Anholt; and, Rare Treasure: Mary Anning and Her Remarkable Discoveries by Don Brown.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By gdanny on December 13, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Another good version of this important story. My favorite is still the STONE GIRL BONE GIRL: THE STORY OF MARY ANNING.
The illustrations in the latter are much more evocative and demonstrate to beautifully the layering of past life in the earth. From this we can really teach how "earth tells the story."
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4 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on March 24, 2002
Format: Hardcover
With the loving support of her mother, and the admonition of her deceased father to perservere in her quest for "curiosities", Mary Anning went on to discover ancient fossils which earned her the friendship and respect of many well-known scientists of the early 1800s. Christians and Jews will want to change the reference "millions of years" to "thousands" to be in keeping with Biblical creationism, but other than that it is a great book. It is the kind of book a young scientist will read again and again... feeling the cold, salty air as Mary digs in the sand and scrapes at the stones that fall from the cliffs of the shores of Lyme Regis, England. Her relentless curiosity and faithful endurance led to her discovery of what we now call an ichthyosaur... at the age of only eleven!
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