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Children's Nonfiction Discoveries

Before the World Was Ready

Stories of Daring Genius in Science

by (author) Claire Eamer

illustrated by Sa Boothroyd

Annick Press
Initial publish date
Sep 2013
Discoveries, History of Science, General
Recommended Age
9 to 12
Recommended Grade
4 to 7
Recommended Reading age
9 to 12
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2013
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2013
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Where to buy it


Eight fascinating tales of scientists and inventors ahead of their time. 

Earth revolves around the sun. Washing hands helps stop the spread of disease. Poisons in the environment affect the entire ecosystem. Today, these ideas are common knowledge but at one time, they were all rejected. As is often the case, it can take years for people to accept a new idea or invention that changes the way they see the world. 

In this thought-provoking book, you’ll find out what happened when people weren’t ready to listen to innovators who came up with revolutionary ideas. Discover how Alfred Wegener struggled to convince geologists that the ground beneath our feet is moving, why “mad scientist” Nikola Tesla’s futuristic ideas about electricity were dismissed, why Charles Darwin delayed publishing his controversial theory of evolution for decades, and how Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace nearly invented the first computer in the 1800s. You’ll also meet Copernicus, who proposed a sun-centered model of the universe; Ignaz Semmelweis, who tried in vain to persuade doctors to use disinfection methods; the aviation pioneer George Cayley, whose ideas were decades ahead of the technology that would make them work; and Rachel Carson, who sounded the first alarm about the effects of pesticides on wildlife. Nowadays, we think of these scientists as heroes, but they all endured great personal hardships for daring to think differently.

Enlivened by colorful and witty illustrations, these compelling stories of great minds—and often eccentric personalities—are sure to draw in young readers. Look around: can you spot the next world-shaking idea?

About the authors


Claire Eamer was born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. She worked as a radio copywriter, a reporter for newspapers and radio, a trade book editor and a university instructor. Currently, she spends much of her time writing fiction and non-fiction for children and young adults. After living in Whitehorse, Yukon, for many years, Claire now lives on Gabriola Island in British Columbia. She is fascinated by science and natural history, and by the habitats that surround her.


Claire Eamer's profile page

Sa Boothroyd's profile page


  • Short-listed, Canadian Science Writers’ Association Award
  • Joint winner, Best Books for Kids & Teens, Canadian Children’s Book Centre
  • Short-listed, Red Cedar Book Award
  • Winner, Lane Anderson Award
  • Short-listed, Information Book Award, Children’s Literature Roundtables of Canada
  • Nominated, Rocky Mountain Book Award

Editorial Reviews

“The stories told are fascinating, and the tone of the book is amusing and accessible to the middle-grade reader.”

Rebecca Reads, 05/30/14

“I envision many cognitively engaging discussions in classrooms that focus on the details Eamer has incorporated in each fascinating story . . . Highly recommended.”

CM Reviews, 11/29/13

“This engaging book is very informative, reader friendly and interesting.” 

Resource Links, 02/14

“Aside from providing interesting biographical reading, this book is replete with life lessons for adolescents and tweens about flouting popularity in the name of what is right.”

Booklist, 11/26/13

“This engaging book has much to offer both children and adults and would be a wonderful personal gift or addition to any science classroom or library.”

The Guardian, 08/20/13

“Brings to life the stories of these great minds who dared to think differently, and encourages young readers to look out for, and even become, the next great thinker. Junior Book of the Month.”

Haliburton County Public Library, 09/11/14

“Truly revolutionary . . . A must have for every library, classroom, and personal collection.”

Yolanda Ridge, 08/21/13

“Informative, accessible and endlessly interesting, this is a book that is sure to find rapt readers.”

Sal’s Fiction Addiction, 01/04/14

“The author takes a novel approach by linking scientists across cultures and time periods.”

School Library Journal, 12/13

“A great book for science students . . . looking for an interesting scientist to study for a science fair or class project.”

Canadian Children’s Book News, 10/13

“Another fantastic children's non-fiction book . . . by Claire Eamer.” 

Cozy Little Book Journal, 10/04/13

“I found the language used in the book to be funny, interesting and accessible to kids.”

Second Bookshelf on the Right, 07/17/13

“Inspirational and comedic introduction.”

Green Teacher, 02/15

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