The Leaf Detective: How Margaret Lowman Uncovered Secrets in the Rainforest

Calkins Creek. Feb. 2021. 48p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781684371778.
PreS-Gr 3–This title spotlights a pioneering female scientist. Margaret Lowman (b. 1953), a white American biologist, turned a childhood fascination with leaves into a career of rain forest exploration, education, and conservation. She invented new ways to study trees and their leaves: by exploring their canopies. The narrative introduces her as Meg, a shy child with a passion for the natural world. In college, Lowman faced sexism, but she persevered. She graduated from Sydney University with her PhD in Botany, and then explored the rain forests. Climbing ropes were succeeded by the first canopy walkway, and later, a raft placed on the treetops in Cameroon, Africa. Lang’s poetic text showcases engaging language, alliteration, and appropriate metaphors. Nearly every spread features a direct quotation, which is highlighted in a different color typeface. Relevant information about rain forests appears in leaf-shaped text boxes. Lang describes her personal encounter with “Canopy Meg” when Lowman served as a guide for a 2017 citizen-science trip to a rain forest in Peru. A final spread depicts the levels of a Peruvian rain forest and the various creatures that inhabit the environment. Christy’s digital illustrations nicely support the text. The solid back matter includes source notes.
VERDICT This quiet celebration would be a pleasure to read aloud to a small group.

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