Mary Anning was a pretty inspiring person – because who doesn’t love dinosaur fossils, right? – so it’s hardly surprising that there are a number of books for children, written about her amazing work.
The Fossil Girl by Catherine Brighton and Stone Girl, Bone Girl by Laurence Anholt are two examples.
Both books tell of Anning’s early life as she gathered enough ‘curiosities’ to fill her shop.
The Fossil Girl by Catherine Brighton
Pictured above, this book tells Anning’s story using a comic-book format. The pictures are beautiful and light and have a real seaside-feel – to me at least, they’re reminiscent of the early railway posters.
The format lends itself really well to early readers on account of the deliberate narrative, but manages not to be patronising. There is a wealth of information there – it’s just presented in a really concise, accessible manner. And though the words are few and scattered, the pictures really do tell their own story. I really love this detail from the cover – the clusters of swirling fossils, Anning’s practical shoes and her utilitarian apron, all help to tell us about her without actually saying anything at all.
Stone Girl, Bone Girl by Laurence Anholt
Unlike the previous book, Stone Girl, Bone Girl lends itself well to being read aloud. Don’t get me wrong – I love a comic as much as anyone – but if I’m reading bedtime stories, comics just don’t have the same ‘flow’ as prose or poetry. I always feel the need to fill in the descriptive narrative myself and the book goes from being an elegant, well-considered series of plot-points to me, waffling about the pictures until the kids get bored and remind me to read the next panel.
The prose is nice, the pictures are rich and colourful, though it is heavily stylised so if realism is important for your family, this book probably isn’t for you.
I found that the two books worked really well in combination. Any differences in the two stories merited investigation – an invitation to further study the life of Mary Anning.
Do you have any favourite books about the science of palaeontology?