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Children's Fiction Girls & Women

Mary Anning's Curiosity

by (author) Monica Kulling

illustrated by Melissa Castrillon

Groundwood Books Ltd
Initial publish date
May 2017
Girls & Women, Exploration & Discovery, Dinosaurs & Prehistoric Creatures
Recommended Age
9 to 12
Recommended Grade
4 to 7
Recommended Reading age
7 to 12
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    May 2017
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    May 2017
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2023
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Where to buy it


The amazing story of how the world’s greatest fossilist found her first huge find at the age of twelve.

Mary was born in 1799 in Lyme Regis, England. Her father, a carpenter and part-time fossil hunter, taught his children to look for fossils.

When her father injured himself and was unable to work, Mary quit school and took up fossil hunting full-time to help support her family, a task that became even more important when her father died, leaving the Annings in debt.

At the age of twelve, Mary, with her older brother Joe, found what they believed to be the skeleton of a gigantic crocodile, the Great Croc of the legends. Between dodging her rival fossil hunter the Curiman, and the sheer work of carefully digging out the fossil, Mary took almost a year to excavate what would later be termed the Ichthyosaurus.

Mary Anning was uneducated, poor and a woman, but her life’s work of fossil hunting led her to make many discoveries that influenced our understanding of prehistoric creatures and the age of the Earth.

In this triumphant novel about scientific discovery, Monica Kulling brings Mary Anning and her world to life for young readers.


Key Text Features
author's note
historical context
further reading

About the authors

Monica Kulling is the author of over forty books for children, including the popular Great Idea series, stories of inventors. The third book in the series, In the Bag! Margaret Knight Wraps It Up, was nominated for the 2012 Governor General’s Award for illustration and chosen as the 2012 Simon Wiesenthal Honor Book. In addition, Monica’s work has been nominated for numerous Silver Birch Express and Golden Oak awards. Her recent picture books include Lumpito and the Painter from Spain and Mister Dash and the Cupcake Calamity. Monica Kulling lives in Toronto, Canada. Visit her at

Monica Kulling's profile page

MELISSA CASTRILLON has a First Class Honors Degree in Illustration and a master’s degree in Children’s Book Illustration from the Cambridge School of Art. She is a freelance illustrator based in Cambridge, England.


Melissa Castrillon's profile page


  • Commended, Bank Street College of Education Best Children's Books of the Year
  • Commended, Cooperative Children's Book Center Best of the Year
  • Commended, CCBC Best Books for Kids and Teens

Excerpt: Mary Anning's Curiosity (by (author) Monica Kulling; illustrated by Melissa Castrillon)

Mary worked tirelessly, removing the surrounding shale. She placed her hammer at shallow angles, and flakes and small chunks of stone fell away. She must not crack the bones. It would be horrible to damage this magnificent creature.

The saucer eye grew larger. Its fierce look made Mary wonder if it had died wide-eyed. She shuddered at the thought. Was it possible that a creature like this had once roamed the seas? And how long ago was that? One thousand years? Millions of years? …

The knowledge gave Mary even greater admiration for the creature that had once swum freely and was now being uncovered by a fossil hunter's hammer.

Editorial Reviews

Mary Anning's Curiosity packs much good material into a slim volume, introducing young readers to one of science's great characters at a pivotal point in her story.

Foreword Magazine

Young adventurers will enjoy this true story of perseverance.

Calgary Herald

A stirring story made more inspirational by the reality of its protagonist.


With this fictionalized look at Anning's childhood, Kulling provides context for readers and offers a fascinating glimpse at how those who came before us have shaped our comprehension of the world.

School Library Journal

Mary's story should inspire young readers to seek unconventional paths, to work hard and to never give up hope. STARRED REVIEW

Youth Services Book Review

Mary presents an admirable role model for her lively mind, independent spirit, and a continuing sense of wonder that drives her to chip away at nature's mysteries.

Kirkus Reviews

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