I have two wonderful STEM picture book biographies (courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press) to share with you today.
"As a baby, Jack's lullaby was the sound of his father's gravel trucks digging in Montana."
The reader doesn't know it yet, but that simple opening sets the scene for the entire book, as "CRUNCH SWOOSH" resonates throughout.
Jack grew up dreaming about becoming a paleontologist and hunted for dinosaur bones EVERYWHERE. Around town, in the woods, and near the mountains...Jack was always searching and looking.
When he found a clamshell he imagined an ocean filling his backyard with ancient beasts. When he spied an odd rock on a hike he stopped to investigate.
"Jack swept the sand aside, his hopes soaring like a Pterodactyl on the wind. CRUNCH SWOOSH."
But, Jack had a big problem.
Although Jack struggled to read, he was determined to learn about science on his own. Although he failed classes, his science projects won awards and he caught the attention of a prestigious university. But, unfortunately he dropped out before the first year was over--he couldn't keep up with academic demands.
But that didn't stop him. Jack got a job in Princeton University's natural history museum. Scientists realized that although he couldn't read words, he could read fossils. (At this point he was diagnosed with dyslexia).
Jack was sent into the field where he led digs, excavated sites, and discovered the first intact fossilized dinosaur embryo in his home state of Montana!
Jack even was hired as the dinosaur expert for the blockbuster movie...Jurassic Park!
The last illustration shows dinosaurs roaming around a city. The text reads, "Jack understands dinosaurs aren't alive anymore, but he wishes they were."
The cartoon-type illustrations and text boxes gives this book the feel of a graphic novel. As a result, I think this will not only appeal to young readers, but I think it will be a great resource for older reluctant readers. Back matter includes more information about Jack Horner and how to design and name your own dinosaur.
Here's another great opening line:
"Hallie leapt from her bed and raced to the window, pulling back the curtains. A bright orange glow filled the sky."
Hallie saw and smelt the fire and knew the forest was in danger. "Hallie had to help save her forest home."
In this way, the reader is introduced to Hallie Morse Daggett, the first female "fire guard."
The only thing that Hallie feared was fire.
So whenever US Forest crews came to fight the fires, Hallie Joined the fight. She and Leslie [her sister] stamped out abandoned campfires. They brought food and supplies to the men at the fire line.
Fire was a constant worry in Hallie's life.
In the early 20th century women didn't work for the Forest Service and they certainly weren't fire fighters. She applied for work several times, but always received No as an answer.
But that didn't stop her. Finally, after several years of applying for work, she finally got the job!
When she started work as the new lookout at Eddy Gulch in California, Forest Service men made fun of her and predicted she wouldn't last. But they didn't know how headstrong Hallie was.
"Hallie loved the tiny look out cabin from the first time she saw it."
Her cabin also because a home for pet chipmunks and porcupines. During one of her seasons she had to kill a bear, four wildcats and three coyotes. But despite the danger and loneliness, Hallie loved protecting the forest, its animals, and people. Nothing deterred her from reporting smoke during the day and fire at night.
Hallie worked for fifteen seasons and didn't regret not marrying or having children. She followed her dream of a "life where she would protect the mountains and forests she loved."
Back matter includes more information about Hallie and some original photographs. For an interesting tidbit, click here to see how Hallie made the Eddy Gulch news in 1913. And check out this interview on Caroline Starr Rose's blog.