Mary Leakey: In Search of Human Beginnings

Mary Leakey: In Search of Human Beginnings

by Deborah Heiligman, Janet Hamlin

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Gisela Jernigan
This valuable addition to the "Science Superstars" series presents the life of Mary Leakey, one of the most important archaeologists of the century. Using a simple, informal text, the author covers Leakey's long productive life, from her unconventional childhood in England and traveling around Europe, to her romance and professional collaboration with Louis Leakey and her many digs and discoveries at Olduvai Gorge and other sites in East Africa. The reader comes to understand and appreciate her dedication to her goal of uncovering evidence of Early Man and his ancestors, Many black and white drawings, a combination index-glossary, bibliography and interesting note on how she wrote the book are included.
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 4-6This skillfully done biography portrays the woman scientist in a lively way. But then, Leakey led an interesting life, and wasn't one to let anyone, including her mother, stop her pursuit of archaeology. Heiligman is careful to include details that will appeal to children, such as descriptions of Leakey's pets, her distaste for school, and her excitement at making new discoveries. The author is also frank in explaining how Leakey's husband often claimed the media spotlight that she more rightly deserved. Throughout the book, the author refers to ``artifacts'' that reveal aspects of the subject's lifelecture notes; drawings of a stone axe; and a matchbook from a dinner in 1933, her first meeting with Louis Leakey. Lisa Lambert's The Leakeys (Rourke, 1993) and Delta Willis's The Leakey Family (Facts on File, 1992) cover some similar territory, but Heiligman's title focuses on Mary Leakey, emphasizing her struggles and accomplishments as a woman and her contributions to the science that she loved. Charcoal drawings illustrate the text.Cathryn A. Camper, Minneapolis Public Library
Hazel Rochman
Mary Leakey's life and work make a great story. Stubborn and opinionated, she barely went to school but grew up to become a leading paleoanthropologist whose exciting discoveries with her husband in east Africa have given us crucial information about our ancestors and their evolution. Heiligman's style is direct and informal, though the abundance of exclamation points adds an arch tone, and the total lack of documentation is condescending (she explains in an author's note that her sources are "too numerous to list here" ). The dark-shaded illustrations are sometimes too heavy, but the sketches of the skulls that Leakey dug up have a realistic drama. There's also a sketch of what is perhaps her most thrilling discovery: the footprints that are the earliest physical evidence of bipedalism, when hominids started walking on two feet, a mere five million years ago. A useful annotated list for further reading and viewing will help readers who want to go from here to learn more about the scientist and the meaning of what she found.

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Product Details

Freeman, W. H. & Company
Publication date:
Science Superstars Ser.
Product dimensions:
7.34(w) x 9.31(h) x 0.44(d)
Age Range:
9 - 11 Years

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