book review, Something To Do, Summer Reading Book Adventures

Taking a Komodo Dragon for a stroll with Joan Proctor, Dragon Doctor

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Imagine my delight when I saw that May is National Pet Month!  My eyes may have leaked a little too with happiness.


Because our family adores critters and (according to the last time I counted) we have 23 pets. In defense of myself…17 are fish.

So that leaves a head count of one dog, one hamster, and four delight “scaly babies.” The four non-fur-bearing pets include one Leopard Gecko (Kermit), one diva-spoiled-rotten Bearded Dragon (Gidget), and two adorable snakes (Dex and Leonidas).

My daughter Sara with our Leopard Gecko, Kermit

Over the years our family has discovered that VERY FEW PEOPLE share our enthusiasm for our snakes and lizards.  It’s the weirdest thing. What’s not to love?

But that changed a tad when I spotted the book,  Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor by Patricia Valdez. I truly had a “YESSSS!!!” moment!

At a time when most women of her age and class were hosting tea parties and behaving demurely at home, Joan Procter was studying reptiles. And when she had her own tea parties, she invited the most unusual guests including her pet lizards, an alligator, and a giant Komodo dragon named Sumbawa!

Note: I’ve never invited my reptiles to a gathering, but I have tried to talk about them often. No one seemed interested. WTH?

If Joan Proctor lived in this modern day era, she and I would be besties for sure!

An Elementary Non-Fiction Book about a Fellow Reptile Fan

Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor by Patricia Valdez; illustrated by Felicita Sala Alfred A. Knopf

Author Felicita Sala’s child-friendly art and Patricia Valdez’s simple and engaging text chronicle Joan Procter’s life from girlhood to her untimely death at 34. Despite struggling with chronic ill-health, sexism from the scientists of the day, and general disinterest and fear of reptiles, Joan Procter made significant scientific contributions to the study of reptiles.

When Joan grew older, she became the Curator of Reptiles at the British Museum.

She went on to design the Reptile House at the London Zoo, including a home for the rumored-to-be-vicious komodo dragons–reported to be her favorite reptile. Within the back matter of this delightful book is great facts about Komodo Dragons and the backstory this notable female scientist. Readers will be inspired to pursue their own scientific interests, overcome barriers both societal and physical, and learn more about the strange, wonderful creatures that Joan Procter loved.

And join the ranks of us who KNoW reptiles are freaking AWEsome. Would you take a walk with a giant lizard?

Something To Do

Reptiles as a first Pet:

Now before you shudder at the thought and get a huge case of the heebie-jeebies, consider the fact that many reptiles are easy to care for and are even used as therapy animals in homes and schools. Geckos or Bearded Dragons have very mellow dispositions that have proven to be effective calming tools for children on the autism spectrum or very anxious kids.

There was a time when my daughter (who is highly anxious and hyper-sensitive) was younger that the only way I could get her up for school in the a.m. was to promise her some “Kermit time” with our gecko.

I really love this story from The Mighty about how a pet bearded dragon helped one young mom with depression and anxiety.

I adore this Popsicle Lizard Craft from Mom of 5 Blessings!

Reptile Care 101: Whatever reptile you chose, be sure and read up on proper husbandry for them. They, like any other pet, need a special set of skills for care so they can live a long and happy life!

I just have to take a moment and share the news of my upcoming (and very first!) picture book, Sissy Goes Tiny!

Sissy Goes Tiny by Rebecca Flansburg and B.A. Norrgard

In Sissy Goes Tiny, eight-year-old Sissy and her parents make the bold choice to downsize their life and embark on a journey of living tiny and doing more with less. At first, Sissy struggles to get used to the idea of living in a tiny house on wheels and traveling around the U.S, but as she and her mommy and daddy learn about downsizing, repurposing, and how “stuff is just stuff,” she soon understands that a life of “living tiny” will be filled with the big adventures and learning.

This gorgeous diverse picture book will be available July of 2019 and you can read the full story of this journey here and also reserve your hardcover copy here.

Join me in celebrating the idea of Tiny Living and BIG Adventures!

2 thoughts on “Taking a Komodo Dragon for a stroll with Joan Proctor, Dragon Doctor

  1. I just finished Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor and it has jumped to the top of my favorite picture book biographies. Thanks for the activities and I love the photos with the lizards!

    I am really looking forward to reading Sissy Goes Tiny – congratulations on the publication. What a great topic. Actually, living tiny sounds very tempting.

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