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The Fossil Girl


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About the Author

Catherine Brighton trained at St Martin's College of Art and the Royal College of Art. She has held exhibitions of her work in the Barbican, London, at the Bath Festival, and at a Southern Arts travelling exhibition. She is now a successful full-time author/illustrator of children's books. She lives in London.


Gr 2-4-In this bicentennial year of Anning's birth, Brighton presents a comic-strip style account of the British paleontologist's legendary childhood discovery of the first ichthyosaur skeleton. Like Laurence Anholt, whose picture book biography tells Mary's childhood in Stone Girl, Bone Girl (Orchard, 1999), Brighton fictionalizes in re-creating the amazing find. Her spare telling features a determined, somewhat older-looking Mary, her brother Joe, and their widowed mother, whose modest seaside home and curiosity shop are battered one stormy night. While Mary and Joe search for new fossil treasures to replenish their lost livelihood, they discover the enormous unknown creature embedded high in the cliff. In a scenario of derring-do, Mary mounts a crude wooden tower built by a neighbor to lower segments of the fossil. "Then, as the cart pulled away across the beach, there was a sudden CRACK-and the tower collapsed like a pack of cards!" All ends well as the children charge the townsfolk a penny a piece to see their great treasure, and Mary negotiates a selling price with the Lord of the Manor. Brighton's concluding note summarizes Anning's adult discoveries and her role in the history of science. Picture panels in a variety of groupings carry small blocks of narrative over watercolor scenes in muted tones, while dialogue balloons add bits of detail. The graphic-story format is well suited to the dramatic structure of events. Differing in details, neither Anholt nor Brighton acknowledge sources. The story is appealing in either case, and this cartoon adventure of a real-life heroine will be a fine choice for most collections.-Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

Brighton breathes life into a wonderful story.

Gr 2-4-With a comic-book layout, staccato prose, and sun-drenched illustrations, this real-life adventure of a curious English girl is an exciting introduction to the 19th-century paleontologist. (May) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

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