♦ If you’re a child who collects nature’s treasures, you’re in good company.
This cleverly conceived and appealingly executed title addresses young readers directly, connecting their noticing and collecting habits to those of others who continued to observe, collect, and organize in adulthood. Montgomery introduces a grandly diverse array of nine naturalists, researchers, and explorers from Maria Sibylla Merian, who studied butterflies in the 17th century, to Bonnie Lei, whose present-day research focuses on sea-life conservation. Three are people of color, and the majority are female. The young George Washington Carver collected seed pods; deep-sea explorer William Beebe collected birds’ eggs; and young Jane Goodall put worms under her pillow! Other profiles include Charles Darwin, tree-canopy explorer Margaret Lowman, herpetologist Diego Cisneros-Heredia, and fossil hunter Mary Anning. The vignettes from childhood are engaging, well paced, and smoothly told. Short introductions to the adult scientists follow, in a smaller font. In her author’s note, the writer introduces the concept of naturalist intelligence. Lechuga’s friendly illustrations feature the brown-skinned girl with Afro puffs and overflowing pockets shown on the cover as well as the scientists as children, then as adults, in appropriate times and places. The backmatter includes more about the grown-up scientists and the author’s own sensible “rules for collecting,” which involve respect for nature, the people she lives with, and herself (safety). The illustrator reminds readers that habits of observation are something she also shares with scientists.
Inspiration for nature-loving children.
—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
♦ Who hasn’t wandered a beach or forest and tucked a sparkling stone or bit of flora into their pocket? Montgomery’s terrific picture book suggests that this kind of casual curiosity can spark a lifelong love of science and nature. A series of humorous anecdotes give brief introductions to the extraordinary lives of nine scientists, plus scientific tidbits. The stories have delightfully surprising outcomes, as a worm-loving kiddo grows into primatologist Jane Goodall, and a burgeoning bug collector turns out to be Charles Darwin. Plenty of lesser-known names are included, too, from different time periods and varied backgrounds: in the seventeenth century, Maria Sibylla Merian discovers that butterflies grow from caterpillars, while a modern-day Bonnie Lei continues work on sea animals. In Lechuga’s appealing illustrations, which vividly capture the wonder of childhood explorations and the beauty of the natural world, kids poke around in tide pools, spy on slugs, and stuff their pockets full of seeds. It’s an altogether charming concept, convincingly demonstrating how childhood enthusiasms can be much more than passing fancies. Helpful back matter expands on each featured scientist and suggests additional reading, recommends field guides, and offers important guidelines for responsible collecting in the wild. Sure to inspire children—and their grown-ups—to get outside and respectfully delight in the incredible world around them.
—Booklist, starred review