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Day, Marie
Toronto, Greey de Pencier/Books from OWL, 1991. unpaged, laminated board, $14.95, ISBN 0-920775-76-4. Distributed by Firefly Books. CIP

Grades 3 and up/Ages 8 and up

Reviewed by Brenda Partridge

Volume 20 Number 4
1992 September

Set in a small coastal village in England in the early 1800s, Dragon in the Rocks is the story of Mary, a twelve-year-old girl with a passion for collecting shells and fossils. When Mary was younger, her father often took her to the beach to examine rocks and to appreciate the mysteries of the fossils found in them. He told her stories of a huge dragon-like fossil trapped in the nearby cliffs.

When her father dies suddenly, Mary sells fossils in the marketplace to make money to allow her family to survive. One day, Captain Fossy offers to take Mary and her brother to see the giant dragon fossil. She becomes inspired to dig it out of the cliff and over a period of time succeeds in restoring it so it can be placed in a famous museum in London.

Dragon in the Rocks is based on the true story of Mary Anning, a young paleontologist who lived in Lyme Regis during the nineteenth century and discovered the fossil of a giant ichthyosaur (giant fish lizard). During her lifetime, Mary made several important discoveries in paleontology and geology.

Author/illustrator Marie Day brings Mary Anning's adventures to life with her rich vocabulary and authentic pictures. Day describes Mary's first glimpse of the ichthyosaur: It was as long as a rowboat. Its huge mouth was bigger than her whole body, and full of razor-sharp teeth. Its eye was much bigger than a saucer. It was bigger than her mother's biggest plate, the one that the Christmas goose was served on.

Day creates an appreciation for the work of this unknown woman and provides the opportunity for due recognition of Anning's contribution to the field of paleontology. Although dinosaurs fascinate youngsters of all ages, this picture-book is appropriate for children who would not be discouraged by a high concentration of the printed word. The story would supplement many facets of the curriculum and would be a welcome addition to a library or classroom collection.


Brenda Partridge is a library-resource teacher at Percy Centennial Public School in Warkworth, Ontario.

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