Narrative Non-Fiction- Biographies

Biographies in this format are easy to read and filled with wonderful illustrations that highlight important stages and times in the lives of the historical figures. Tom Crean and Mary Anning are perhaps not new to readers but there is plenty to discover in the pages of these biographies. They may have lived simply in their time but their contributions to the world have not been forgotten.

The Indestructible Tom Crean by Jennifer Thermes, Published by Welbeck
Most people have heard of Captain Scott, Ernest Shackleton and Roald Amundsen, Antarctic explorers. This story features those intrepid explorers but it focuses on the story of one crew member. I admit to knowing little about Tom Crean, who was a member of the crew on three voyages. His first was aboard The Discovery (1901-1904] and Tom would fall in love with the ice though he was very aware of its dangers. His next expedition would be on the Terra Nova (1910-1913] and his final trip would be on The Endurance (1914-1917]. Having made the headlines recently for its discovery in the Weddell Sea, this ship did not keep Tom and the crew safe, but was taken in by the ice, forcing the men to make drastic decisions. Tom’s story is one of courage and determination to overcome the harshest weather and conditions known to man. He would ultimately survive but it would have been intense, dangerous and uncharted. Truly wonderful illustrations bring to life the adventures and deadly expeditions that Tom and his crew mates faced, with death, frostbite and loss of animal life marked on each voyage. This biography would be a perfect addition to any class studying Antarctica or the expeditions and explorers who were determined to get there first.
The Fossil Hunter by Kate Winter, Published by Puffin
Mary Anning is a widely known name in British History. Renowned for her discoveries on the Jurassic Coast, she and her family would rely upon her fossil finds to survive. When her father died, Mary and her family were thrust into deeper poverty and were forced to work harder and try to sell more fossils. After a storm, she and her brother made the discovery that would put Mary on the map, an entire skeleton of an unknown creature, soon to be named Ichthyosaur. She would later find a plesiosaur and set off to take credit for her incredible discoveries. In those times, women were not given credit for their work or even considered equals of men. This book reads as a biography of Mary Anning, touching on her life, discoveries and beliefs. It also takes a close look at dinosaurs, the Earth as Pangea and the science behind their demise. A fascinating glimpse into one women and her amazing discoveries, ones which are still marvelled over in museums in England. The illustrations are detailed and researched, leaving the reader with plenty to study and consider. The fold out pages are exceptional as is this history of important figures and the need for a statue of Mary Anning to be erected in Lyme Regis just a few years ago.

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