Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor- The Woman Who Loved Reptiles by Patricia Valdez
Watch out! This is the story of a girl with very unusual guests to her tea parties…reptiles! Yes, Joan Procter was a pioneer in the field of woman scientists. She was fascinated by reptiles, and was often joined by her companion crocodile.
Not only was she enthralled with reptiles, she managed to turn her passion into a career. During the war, when women were first invited into the workforce, Joan Procter took the job as a designer for the Reptile House at the London Zoo. There, she even hosted children’s tea parties with the deadly komodo dragon as a special guest.
Joan Procter paved the way for women to become involved in fields that were previously seen as male oriented careers. She dared to think outside of the box and follow her passion.
AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Explore/Think V.A.1 Learners develop and satisfy personal curiosity by reading widely and deeply in multiple formats and write and create for a variety of purposes.
Consider the statement “authors write about what they know”. Patricia Valdez is a scientist with a Ph.D in Molecular and Cellular Biology. She works at the National Institute of Health as well as being an author. Ask learners, “Why do you think she wrote this book?”
Have learners consider the historical impact of the war on Joan Procter’s path. How did the war create a door that was opened for Procter’s role at the London Zoo?
Dig in to the non-fiction possibilities for research and writing. Have learners create a “zoo” with artwork and images to examine the details of reptiles and create blurbs of information to be shared with “zoo visitors”.