Lightning Mary

Lightning Mary

9+ Readers 11+ Readers Historical Fiction Girl Power
Author: Anthea Simmons
ISBN: 9781783448296
Publication date: 4th April 2019
Publisher: Andersen Press Ltd
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 272 pages

Our View on Lightning Mary

The inspiring story of Mary Anning who, born at the end of the eighteenth century, fought against all the odds to become a pioneering scientist and fossil hunter. Inspired by her father who took her out on fossil hunting expeditions on the cliffs and beaches around Lyme Regis, Mary was fascinated by the beauty of the finds and by what they said about the past. Her exceptional curiosity was matched by incredible courage which led her to take dare-devil risks as she searched for rare examples. She also knew their worth and was never shy in selling them well to the many visitors to the area who came to wonder. Anthea Simmons tells Mary’s story as an exciting adventure and also as a rousing story of what an intelligent and brave woman can do.

Julia Eccleshare M.B.E

About Lightning Mary

An irresistible narrative from a unique historical character who broke the mould. This is the tale of Mary Anning, the 19th century fossil finder and scientist who defied convention to seek out incredible treasures on Dorset’s Jurassic coast.

Ordinary is what most people are and I am not. I am not ordinary at all. I am a scientist.

One stormy night, a group of villagers are struck by lightning. The only survivor is a baby - Mary Anning. From that moment on, a spark is lit within her. Growing up poor but proud on the windswept Dorset coast, Mary follows after her father, hunting for fossils uncovered by waves and landslips: ancient creatures, turned to stone. Ignoring other people's taunts, Mary faces danger to bring back valuable treasures to help feed her family. But tragedy and despair is never far away. Mary must depend upon her unique courage and knowledge to fulfil her dream of becoming a scientist in a time when girls have no opportunities for such ambitions. What will happen when she makes her greatest discovery of all...?

With a factual section about Mary Anning, her life, and the discoveries she made.

Reviews (7)

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Fern Tolley - Age 23

An inspirational and intriguing insight into the life of Mary Anning – the 19th century fossil finder who defied convention and gender roles to pursue her dreams and talents of becoming a pioneering palaeontologist.

Set against the backdrop of the iconic cliffs of the Jurassic Coast, Anthea Simmons skilfully unravels the childhood of one of history’s most fascinating figures. Not only braving the dangerous landslips and storms of the coast but also the prejudice and poverty that came with her gender and class (being born both poor and a girl), young Mary bravely faces tragedy and despair in the face in order to fulfil her dream of becoming a scientist, but what will happen when she makes the greatest discovery of all…

Exploring themes of women in scientific positions and tackling bigger issues like science versus faith and religion, Lightning Mary takes you on a riveting and exciting tale of adventure and curiosity whilst also making for a great conversational approach for parents and their children. Simmons has given an unforgettably distinctive and fiery voice to the unsung hero, whose passion and determination to follow her dreams will inspire both readers young and old.

Accompanied with a factual section at the end about Mary’s life and work, with drawings and descriptions of the famous fossils she collected, this makes for a fascinating text for both enjoyment and learning.

Excuse me while I go and book a fossil-hunting trip to Lyme Regis!

Emily Lonsdale - Age 13

I really enjoyed lightning mary, and I'm sure so many others will too!

It's a fabulous mix of real and made up, with the general gist being entirely true: A young girl from a background of poverty and prejudice finds something, that, little does she know, will change the world! Mary is the ultimate feminist hero: strong, intelligent and utterly unmoveable in her quest for knowledge, and a good deal!

I recommend this book to all aspiring dinosaur nerds, but also fans of realistic and historical fiction, as the background is often discussed, and the historical notes featured at the back are fascinating!

lindsey collins - Age 40+

I have always had an interest in fossils and Mary Anning, so when the children received this book, I thought I would read it first for a change! Written in 1st narrative, it is great to finally hear the voice of Mary Anning, who wasn't recognised in her lifetime, for the inspirational scientist she was.
From the very start of the book, Mary is fiery, interesting and bold. Born into a poor family, it is clear how her determination made her succeed. Based loosely on facts, the book is easy to read and Mary Anning proves to be an inspirational character. The factual section and her life and discoveries at the end of the book were very interesting.

PS Children's Reviews to follow

Alice Poole

If I was to sort this book into a genre I don't think I could it has a hint of everything ,one of the best books I have ever read without doubt.

Nate Anderson - Age 10

It was interesting to learn about how poor people lived at that time.
My mum tells me I have been to Lyme Regis and found an Amonite but I can't remember, so I would like to go back and see the places Mary went fossilling.
I think Mary made life hard for herself because she was rebellious.

Issie Ford - Age 11

This book is perfect for history lovers, adventurers, and people who love a thrill. Go back in time to join Mary Anning and her accomplice as they twist through some of the hardest years of Mary's life. She faces tragedies, losses and what she sees as theft. She is the Emmeline Pankhurst of fossil collectors, a pioneer. She thinks it's very unfair how male fossil collectors have recognition and money, whereas Mary has to sell her finds for money when they should be in a museum. Her brother is a bit of a teaser but tries his hardest when he joins Mary on her expeditions. She finds friends in unexpected places - people who at first she tosses aside like mouldy apples. She is honest at times when the other person would much rather she wasn't, and brutal when she needs to be kind. This book will have you wanting to know more and will inspire your inner questioner!

Gianna Smith - Age 9

Lightening Mary is a biography of Mary Anning which truly brings her to life with all of its description of events and places. Mary Anning was a young girl who lived in Dorset and hunted for fossils along the coast in order to help feed her family. She was in her early teens when she made her first big fossil discovery. This story is based around her finding this first large fossil. The book is written from Mary Anning’s perspective and at the time she didn’t know what her discovery was called. She had the nickname Lightning Mary as she survived a lightning bolt when she was baby. The same lightning bolt killed the women who were sitting around her at the time. This was a dramatic and amazing start to her amazing life.
I would recommend this book to people who like reading about history or facts or people who want to find out more about Mary Anning and also those who enjoy fiction books as it gives you a bit of each. At the back of the book, there are drawings of fossils that she found later on and there is also an explanation of what different fossils were called. I found this part of the book really interesting as it expanded my knowledge about fossils and the terms used. For example, a Devil’s Toenail is…well you should read the book to find out. The book also tells you where you can go fossil hunting like Lightning Mary.

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