Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Review: A Dinosaur Named Ruth by Julia Lyon

It's Women's History Month, and I'm not going to let that slip by without suggesting a read to celebrate. This one caught my attention because I loved to visit the various dinosaur bone displays as a child. We actually lived near a couple dig sights and went bone hunting, dreaming we might discover a few dinosaurs on our own. 

Read to dig into the past? 

by Julia Lyon 
Illustrated by Alexandra Bye
Margaret K. McElderry Books
Picture Book
40 pages
ages 4 to 8

For fans of Shark Lady and from the New York Times bestselling illustrator of Dr. Fauci comes the incredible true story of a girl who discovered dinosaur bones in her own backyard and, after years of persistence, helped uncover one of the most exciting paleontological discoveries of our time.

There’s an extraordinary secret hidden just beneath Ruth Mason’s feet. The year is 1905, and Ruth is a prairie girl living in South Dakota. She has no way of knowing that millions of years ago, her family farm was once home to scores of dinosaurs. Until one day, when Ruth starts finding clues to the past: strange rocks and rubble scattered all across her land. They’re dinosaur fossils—but she doesn’t know that yet, either. It will take many years of collecting these clues, and many, many questions, but Ruth’s curiosity will one day help uncover thousands of fossils all across her land.

New York Times bestselling illustrator Alexandra Bye’s vibrant illustrations bring to life this inspiring and exciting debut picture book from award-winning journalist Julia Lyon



All those young collectors out there will be inspired by Ruth's hobby and determination...and who doesn't love dinosaurs?

Ruth Mason grew up in South Dakota and enjoyed heading outside to discover all sorts of things. In 1905, there was quite a bit of untouched land around her, and that's where she discovered the first of many bones. She collected them, knowing that they were special even when no one wanted to believe her. But after a very long time, that changed.

This is history masterfully woven into a story, which young readers can easily identify with. Ruth's desire to collect things is a hobby so many kids have done or do it rocks or shells or leaves or whatever. No one else finds her collection overly important, but she continues since she enjoys doing it. It's a situation many can relate to. Ruth didn't let others damage her fun and continued to believe that her collection was special, even when she did it just for herself. Even when disappointing comments hit, she never dwells on them or lets it get her down.

The illustrations and text are very well done. Each scene comes across familiar although it is set in historical times. The small details give hints at Ruth's life on the prairie without ever having to be mentioned in the text. The words are fitting to the age group and only carry a few sentences on each page. It makes a great read aloud for small as well as larger groups.

The theme of dinosaur bones and how they've been discovered also carries a large importance in this read. It shows how ordinary people can make large discoveries, and how some of the displays in museums came to be. So, this also works as an introduction to science lessons or historical discussions on that front.

And for those, who are more sure of their words, it's simply a wonderful read.

And here they are...

Julia Lyon is a graduate of the Columbia University School of Journalism and spent more than ten years working in daily newspapers in Oregon and Utah before becoming a freelance writer in 2013. She has won a United Nations Correspondents Association gold medal after visiting refugee camps in Thailand and has won many other journalism awards and distinctions for her reporting. A Dinosaur Named Ruth is her debut picture book.

Alexandra Bye is a freelance illustrator specializing in fun, colorful illustrations for a variety of media such as editorial and children’s publications. Her work is constantly inspired by her flourishing New England community and reflects the energy and dynamic personality of hometown pride. In her free time, she enjoys mountain biking, Nordic ski racing, Jiu Jitsu, studying nutritional therapy, and hiking in the White Mountains with her dog, Oliver.


Kristy Kloster said...

Love this one!

Heather N. Quinn said...

What a fun book! Anything with dinosaurs is a hit in our house.