Cover image for Rare treasure : Mary Anning and her remarkable discoveries
Rare treasure : Mary Anning and her remarkable discoveries
Brown, Don, 1949-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 1999.
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 21 x 28 cm
Describes the life of the English girl whose discovery of an Ichthyosaurus fossil led to a lasting interest in other prehistoric animals.
Reading Level:
840 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 5.4 0.5 48279.

Reading Counts RC K-2 3.9 2 Quiz: 31520 Guided reading level: N.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QE707.A56 B76 1999 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



Before the word "dinosaur" was even coined, a young girl discovered a remarkable skeleton on the rocky beach at Lyme Regis in England. Thus began a lifelong passion for an extraordinary woman who became one of the first commercial fossil collectors. Born in 1799, Mary Anning spent a lifetime teaching herself about fossils and combing the rugged ribbon of shore near her home. Her work yielded an astounding treasure trove: fossils of long-extinct creatures that thrilled customers in her shopand excited early paleontologists. Blind to the dangers of fossil-hunting and to the limitations imposed on women of her era, Mary Anning was a singular scientist who used her sharp eyes and clear mind to compose a picture of ancient life from the bones she unearthed. With his trademark graceful prose and lyrical watercolors, Don Brown distills the life story of this rare treasure of a scientist.

Author Notes

Don Brown is the award-winning author and illustrator of many picture book biographies. He has been widely praised for his resonant storytelling and his delicate watercolor paintings that evoke the excitement, humor, pain, and joy of lives lived with passion. School Library Journal has called him "a current pacesetter who has put the finishing touches on the standards for storyographies." He lives in New York with his family.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Ages 5^-8. Like this year's Stone Girl, Bone Girl, by Laurence Anholt [BKL F 1 99], this introduces Mary Anning, who lived at the beginning of the eighteenth century, left school at age 11, and spent the rest of her life combing the beach near her home in Dorset, England, looking for fossils. So successful was she, that despite her lack of education, scientists from all over the world came to discuss fossils with her and look at her collection. This book is quite different from Anholt's offering. Instead of focusing on Anning's girlhood, it traces her entire life, beginning with her almost being killed by lightning when she was a baby. Unlike Anholt's dramatic paintings, Brown's watercolors, outlined in ink, are as soft as sea mist. The subtle pastel palette details both Anning's beachcombing and the fossils she found. Libraries that own Stone Girl may also want this one for its broader coverage and more realistic art. A story this fascinating deserves more than one volume. --Ilene Cooper

Publisher's Weekly Review

As he did in Alice Ramsey's Grand Adventure, Brown once again salutes a spunky heroine who made history, this time focusing on Mary Anning's archeological finds and their relevance to prehistoric research. He drives home the point that 200 years after her birth in 1799, Mary Anning and her contributions continue to inform the scientific community. Unlike Laurence Anholt's recent Stone Girl, Bone Girl, Brown's succinct text downplays the early death of Mary's father, focusing instead on her commitment to carrying on his fossil-hunting legacy, and plays up her partnership with her older brother, Joseph. The limited palette of blues, grays and browns effectively serves double duty, successfully contrasing the poverty of the Anning family with the richness of the seaside digging sites, while also setting off the fossil discoveries, which are recorded on parchment-like paper with hand-lettered labels. Aspiring scientists will be encouraged by this inspiring portrayal of a woman who made a childhood passion into her life's work. Ages 4-8. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 2-4-Two more picture-book biographies celebrate Mary Anning's bicentennial, recounting her childhood discovery of a complete ichthyosaur and noting her adult career as a self-taught paleontologist. Atkins follows the earlier lead of Catherine Brighton in The Fossil Girl (Millbrook, 1999) and Laurence Anholt in Stone Girl, Bone Girl (Orchard, 1999) as she focuses on the single year in which 11-year-old Anning slowly scraped the sand and stone of the Lyme Regis shore to uncover the huge reptile fossil. Her patience and persistence, are emphasized in a smoothly crafted narrative employing more fictionalized conversation and detail than any of the other books. Dooling's watercolors on textured paper employ a predominantly blue, gray, and brown palette conveying the loneliness of Anning's pursuit in this murky, seaside place. Like Brighton and Anholt, Atkins adds a final author's note commenting on Mary Anning's adult discoveries. Don Brown, in a smaller horizontal volume, omits such a note. His text quickly recounts Anning's childhood discovery of the ichthyosaur, and goes on to sketch a chronological account of the woman's entire life. The tan-and-blue watercolor scenes are less compelling than the bolder work in the other books, though several dramatic episodes punctuate the dangerous terrain in which Anning worked. The emphasis here is on the richness of spirit compensating for economic poverty. Both Stone Girl and Fossil Girl are more strongly realized and appealing works, but Sea Dragon reads well, and Rare Treasure is a competent simple biography. None of the writers reveal their actual sources of information on Anning's life. The tale of a child making such a distinctive discovery is inherently interesting, and the scientist's career is a worthwhile story, too. The array of books should attract a wide variety of readers and serve well in science classrooms.-Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.