February 18, 2018

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Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor by Patricia Valdez | SLJ Review

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redstarVALDEZ, Patricia. Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor: The Woman Who Loved Reptiles. illus. by Felicita Sala. 40p. bibliog. photos. Knopf. Mar. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780399557255.

K-Gr 3 –Joan Procter, the subject of this biographical picture book, was an internationally recognized herpetologist in the early 20th century and the curator of reptiles at the British Natural History Museum. This excellent biography presents an inspirational story of a smart, dedicated female scientist. It will be an important addition to the list of newer books for children featuring the work of women in STEM fields. The story adroitly communicates Procter’s determination, curiosity, and complete fascination with reptiles. Throughout the text there are many opportunities for vocabulary building, especially in regards to reptiles. Sala’s vibrant artwork perfectly complements the narrative. A variety of techniques in backgrounds, word placements, and the use of black silhouettes provide depth to the pages and present readers with a variety of viewpoints. The ever-present reptiles will be the star attraction for most children, but the colorful tropical plants add atmosphere and really evoke the Reptile House. Following the story, the author includes additional biographical information on Procter, scientific details on Komodo Dragons, and a bibliography with primary and secondary sources. VERDICT An inspirational biography with exciting depictions of a variety of reptiles, including a pet Komodo dragon, that will keep any child interested—whether reading on their own or with a group. A first purchase for most libraries.–Theresa Muraski, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point Library

This review was published in the School Library Journal January 2018 issue.

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