• Non-Fiction
  • The Leaf Detective: How Margaret Lowman Uncovered Secrets in the Rainforest

The Leaf Detective: How Margaret Lowman Uncovered Secrets in the Rainforest

leaf detective

This picture book biography tells the story of Meg Lowman, a groundbreaking female scientist called a "real life Lorax" by National Geographic, who was determined to investigate the marvelous, undiscovered world of the rainforest treetops.

Meg Lowman was always fascinated by the natural world above her head — the colors, the branches, and, most of all, the leaves and mysterious organisms living there. Meg set out to climb up and investigate the rain forest tree canopies — and to be the first scientist to do so. But she encountered challenge after challenge. Male teachers would not let her into their classrooms, the high canopy was difficult to get to, and worst of all, people were logging and clearing the forests. Meg never gave up or gave in. She studied, invented, and persevered, not only creating a future for herself as a scientist, but making sure that the rainforests had a future as well. Working closely with Meg Lowman, author Heather Lang and artist Jana Christy beautifully capture Meg's world in the treetops.---from the publisher

48 pages                            978-1684371778                            Ages 7-10

Keywords:  biography, women, scientist, science, rain forest, perseverance, gender equality, STEM, 7 year old, 8 year old, 9 year old, 10 year old


Meg was always interested in leaves. "She built tree forts, collected twigs, leaves and wildflowers to study and identify, to press and label." The narrative of the book traces her passion for science from those childhood adventures to her graduate studies in the rainforests of Australia. Her ingenious solution to reaching the upper canopies opened "a new frontier - mysterious and unexplored." Illustrations show scenes of life over one hundred feet above the ground, as well as naysayers on the ground waving their arms and saying, "Women don't climb trees." The book also shows the canopy walkway designed by Meg and her friend Peter O'Reilly, which can be used by tourists to visit the canopy. Details of threats to the rainforest and how canopy tourism can support economic growth in areas that have previously suffered from clearcutting for timber or farmland.

Several features provide helpful details. Additional facts are shared in leaf shapes in the corners of various pages. Quotes from Meg are shown in a different color of font from the main text to help them stand out. An author's note includes photos of Heather Lang trying out the tree climbing harness Meg invented, as well as a photo of both women in the Amazon canopy in Peru. There is also a spread which shows the layers of the rainforest with descriptions of each layer and examples of the life found there. And a bibliography includes video references and the URL for Meg's website - both of which may prove useful for readers to explore on their own.

A great title for those who enjoy picture book biographies or stories of women in STEM careers.

Recommended by: Suzanne Costner, Librarian, Tennessee USA

See more of her recommendations: https://fveslibrary.blogspot.com/2021/06/summer-reading-2021-leaf-detective-how.html

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