The Fossil Girl: Mary Anning's Dinosaur DiscoveryWritten and illustrated by Catherine Brighton
Frances Lincoln Books
Mary Anning and her brother Joe explore the cliffs of Lyme Regis looking for curiosities to sell. This is their way of contributing to their mother's store ever since their father passed away. It isn't easy and one night a storm washes everything out of their house. But they don't give up - it just makes them more determined to to help.
One day while scrambling around, they discover a huge animal head sticking out of the cliff. What could it be? Determined to figure it out, Mary asks a neighbour to help build a platform of sorts so that she can get up there and chip it out of the wall. Precariously balanced above the cliffs she shows immense pluck and succeeds. And then, ingenious little businesswoman that she is, charges the villagers to let them see her twenty foot long fossil. News gets around and Henry Henley, the Lord of Manor buys it off her for the princely sum of 23 pounds - this is 1810. It is possibly one of the most important discoveries of that time, a fossilised sea monster, or an Ichthyosaur. Mary decides then to be a fossil hunter and actually makes good on her decision, going on to find Pterodactyls and Plesiosaurs and making a name for herself in the world of science.
Done in comic book style, Catherine Brighton gives bite sized information that children find easy to understand and retain. This was a great hit at our place given the obsession with all prehistoric life. My only wish is that more of her life had been covered in this biographical account.