Scientists are Saving the World!
Saskia Gwinn and Ana Albero
In this comic strip format book a little boy (with special interests in time travel and dinosaurs) and his mum spend time together talking about scientists and some of their amazing work.
First come the palaeontologists, one of whom was Mary Anning who inspired many others to search for dinosaur remains; another was Louis R. Purnell, an ex-fighter pilot who looked after fossils in, among others, the Smithsonian museum in the USA.
Their discussion then moves on to astronauts; it’s great to see Leonid Kadenyuk, the first Ukranian citizen to blast off into space, as well as Liu Yang who flew to a space station to undertake experiments to find out if it was safe for other astronauts to live there. Did you know though, that it takes thousands of scientists to launch a rocket?
Next up are the meteorologists and we’re introduced to two women, Joanna Simpson who discovered how hurricanes work and June Bacon-Bercey whose knowledge of Earth’s atmosphere meant she could predict when very hot weather was on its way.
The talk then focuses on acoustic biologists. It’s clever how this entire discussion is advanced by the boy’s question and his mum’s response at the end of the previous topic. In this instance the two biologists we meet are new to me: Deepal Warakagoda, an expert in bird sounds who, when walking in the Sri Lankan rainforest, heard an owl noise never before recorded. The other is Katy Payne, recorder of elephant sounds but not only that, for when out on the ocean with her husband, she discovered that humpback whales sing songs.
They move on first to robotic engineers, then in turn marine biologists, geologists, botanists, arthropodologists (scientists who study many-legged bugs), conservationists working tirelessly on save the world: Sir David Attenborough being one, another is Wangari Maathai who started a famous campaign to help more women plant trees in Africa.
Unsurprisingly there’s a spread devoted to those life saving inventors of vaccines including Ugur Sahin and Özlem Türeci two of those behind the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine that protects against COVID-19.
We return to the boy’s thoughts about time travel: Mum talks of astrophysicists, introduces Neta Bahcall who studies dark matter, and the bedtime part of this awesome exploration brings the focus right back to the child who falls asleep thinking of the idea that all those incredible people were once small children like him who asked lots of questions, had big dreams and followed them.
What a wonderful way to inspire the next generation of scientists: this collaboration between author Saskia Gwinn and illustrator Ana Albero works really well, making this a book that can either be read right through, or with pauses at the end of whichever spread one chooses, so cleverly is it put together.