The Fossil Whisperer: How Wendy Sloboda Discovered a Dinosaur

Kids Can. Jun. 2022. 32p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781525304187.
K-Gr 4–This picture book biography kicks off when Canadian fossil hunter Wendy Sloboda is a young student. She loves exploring nature and notices things that other people miss, spying the unusual amidst a field of seemingly ordinary birds, rocks, and plants. Detailed illustrations will inspire readers to notice just such minutiae, from a blue jay feather in her pocket to the brilliant red of a cardinal or toadstool. On a field trip to the badlands near her home, Sloboda falls in love with fossils and, at the age of 12, the course for her life is set. She grows up to work in the paleontology department of a museum and travels the world finding fossils wherever she goes. During one of her fossil hunts, she discovers the skeleton of an unknown horned dinosaur and initiates a four-year-long dig with other paleontologists. The dinosaur is named Wendiceratops in her honor. Back matter includes more biographical details about her life, the Wendiceratops, Canadian fossil discoveries, a glossary, and tips and research resources for students who want to follow in her footsteps. Obvious care has been given to intentionally inclusive illustrations. Each crowd in the book, from the first page depicting Sloboda leaving school, to the ending where a museum group huddles honoring her discovery, features a person using a wheelchair and people with different skin and hair colors, head coverings, and glasses. Beautifully crafted, colorful, and carefree endpapers with a frolicking girl amid trees, animals, and fossils capture the spirit of the book.
VERDICT Recommended for early nonfiction collections and any shelf emphasizing STEM titles or biographies of women.

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