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Lightning Mary

Written by Anthea Simmons

Key Stage 2 Historical Fiction

LoveReading View on Lightning Mary

April 2019 Book of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month April 2019

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

More About This Book

A Note from the author;   Why was I drawn to write about Mary? The loss of her father resonated deeply. I had just lost my own, and her toughness and resilience in a man’s world also chimed. Suddenly, I had a powerful image of her in my head. A scrap of a girl, feisty and stubborn, telling it like it was and absolutely obsessed by the task in hand. Her grit, her persistence, her disregard for any social financial or physical obstacle to her quest came through strongly in my head. She’s a scrapper, is Lightning Mary, and she speaks to children and young people across the centuries to say ‘just do it’.

Julia Eccleshare's Picks for April 2019:

Jasper Space Dog by Hilary Robinson

Lightning Mary by Anthea Simmons

Watership Down Gift Picture Storybook by Frank Cottrell Boyce

Big Cat by Emma Lazell

Mister Cleghorn's Seal by Judith Kerr

Wilderness by Mia Cassany

Lightning Mary Synopsis

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.

Lightning Mary Reader Reviews

In addition to our LoveReading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title. You can click here to read the full reviews.

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. Full review

Fern Tolley (Age 23)

Mary anning is the fast talking, determined heroine that rises up and brings out a wonderful story that teaches you something at the same time, morals and dinosaur bones! Full review

Emily Lonsdale (Age 13)

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. Full review

lindsey collins (Age 40+)

One of the best books I have aver read. Full review

Alice Poole

Mary was poor but she she makes money by selling her fossil finds. She has a friend who was rich called Henry who was spying on her and he gave her jam buns which she liked. Full review

Nate Anderson (Age 10)

If you like adventures, history, confusion, and are curious, this book is for you. Stumble across ancient beasts, then try to piece every bone together as you and Mary Anning, the famous female Victorian fossil hunter, try to figure out one of the greatest mysteries! Full review

Issie Ford (Age 11)

Lightning Mary is a biography of Mary Anning which truely brings her to life with all of its description of events and places. It includes drawings and descriptions of the fossils she found - this part really expanded my knowledge Full review

Gianna Smith (Age 9)

Meet Mary Anning, a wilful child, determined to find fossils. She is a no-nonsense girl with a straight-talking style. A wonderful historical figure to learn more about. Full review

Erin Hamilton (Librarian Reviewer)

Lightning Mary Press Reviews

An intriguing insight into a fascinating figure from history: Mary is a bold, brilliant and truly inspiring heroine. -- Katherine Woodfine

Riveting and evocative. Inspirational for budding scientists - Stemettes

An inspirational fictional account of a bold heroine, this also includes a factual section to inspire budding scientists - Bookseller

A treasure of a tale. Lightning Mary is as fiery and bright as the lightning bolt after which her father names her. Anthea Simmons has gifted her heroine with a voice as fierce and rare as the strange creatures she excavates. Mary's determination to follow her dream of becoming a scientist against the odds stacked against her at the time of being born both poor and a girl, can't fail but to inspire young readers -- Ally Sherrick

Mary's story brings out your sense of excitement, adventure and curiosity! A good read for anyone interested in the history of an amazing woman and the birth of palaeontology -- Ali Ferris, Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre 

Book Information

ISBN: 9781783448296
Publication date: 4th April 2019
Author: Anthea Simmons
Publisher: Andersen Press Ltd
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 272 pages
Year Groups: Key Stage 2
Topics: Historical Fiction

About Anthea Simmons

Anthea Simmons is a vicar’s daughter and the eldest of six children. She grew up in Cornwall where she was pony and book-mad. After a highly-successful City career, she ‘retired’ to the country to bring up her son, ride, garden, write, paint and teach. More recently she has become involved in a social enterprise dedicated to improving diversity and inclusion in the UK’s board rooms through an apprenticeship scheme. This works brings her into contact with people from all backgrounds and has sharpened her awareness of the need for access to opportunity. She lives ...

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