There is a strong movement to encourage young girls to pursue careers in science and technology. While we are pushing our next generation of great thinkers, some picture book authors are putting together absolutely brilliant biographies of women who were ahead of their time and who made great advances in their individual fields. One of the books in this category is The Shark Lady – The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist by Jess Keating and illustrated by Marta Álvarez Miguéns. (June 2017, Sourebooks).
From a very young age, Eugenie Clark was fascinated with sharks. She longed to swim with them and see the world through their eyes. She also wanted to show people that they were beautiful. Eugenie read book after book on sharks and filled many notebooks.
Not surprisingly, as Eugenie grew older, she continued to pursue zoology with a focus on sharks. But all around her, she was confronted by people who told her that she should forget her studies and be a secretary or housewife.
Fortunately, Eugenie ignored them and followed her dream. She was the first to prove that sharks do not have to always move in order to stay alive. She discovered new species of fish. She also believed that sharks were very intelligent creatures and was the first to actually train sharks.
The story itself is marvelous and really talks about perseverance and determination. At a time when women were really discouraged from being intellectuals and especially scientists, she not only proved that women could do it, but made tremendous discoveries in her field. But Keating went beyond just providing a superb biography. In the back of the book are two exceptional spreads. The first is called shark bites and is full of information on sharks as a way to entice young minds. The second is a time line so that readers can get a better sense of when she lived and when her discoveries were made.
For any child with an interest in marine biology, Shark Lady is a great book to show them where a dream and passion can get you.
Jess Keating did a great interview on the blog Mr. Schu Reads that was truly wonderful. You should check out the entire interview here. The one paragraph that really stood out to me was this:
Everyone should read this book because it is a book about being misjudged, underestimated, and staying courageous no matter what. As a biracial woman in science, Eugenie faced so many obstacles. Many people thought she wasn’t smart enough to be a scientist, or brave enough to explore. Likewise, many people also had the wrong idea about sharks: they thought they were mindless killers. Eugenie proved everyone wrong, both about herself, and her beloved sharks. (Also, the book is gorgeously illustrated and full of science, which is always fun!)
*Note – I received a digital copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are entirely my own.
Every Wednesday I try to post a non-fiction picture book as part of the Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy. There are truly so many amazing nonfiction picture books being published these days, it can be hard to contain myself sometimes. Make sure to check out Kid Lit Frenzy and the linked blogs to find some more fabulous books!