Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor: The Woman Who Loved Reptiles by Patricia Valdez

Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor: The Woman Who Loved Reptiles by Patricia Valdez; illustrated by Felicita Sala, 2018

Where many of us would squirm at the sight of a snake or lizard, Joan Procter collected and studied them. She even received a pet crocodile on her sixteenth birthday! Her love of reptiles never waned and she became the curator at the Natural History Museum and then the London Zoo at a young age. Soon she was famous for her expertise and for being the first to bring Komodo dragons to Europe. Even though Joan suffered from chronic illness and passed away at the age of thirty-four, she is remembered for her incredible accomplishments in such a short time. 

It is so important for both girls and boys to read about astonishing women who pushed boundaries and succeeded even when the odds were against them. Joan became a herpetologist at a time when there were very few female scientists. My five-year-old son loved learning about Joan and her achievements. He especially enjoyed discovering how she dismissed fears about Komodo dragons by walking through the zoo accompanied by one and also having one join in on children’s tea parties. 

An author’s note provides additional information on her amazing life as well as the history behind Komodo dragons. Joan’s interesting story is set against incredible illustrations making this a perfect choice for a STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) themed storytime or for any child who enjoys learning something new.  


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