#WomenReadWomen2019 Books Early Readers Features Genre Lifespan of a Reader Non-fiction Wednesday Nonfiction Picture Books Reading Themes Warrior Women and Social Justice

[Nonfiction Wednesday] A Fierce Woman’s Fascination with Reptiles

A picturebook biography of Joan Procter.

Myra here.

We are delighted to join the Nonfiction Picture Book meme 2019 hosted by Alyson Beecher @ Kid Lit Frenzy. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year, when we can.

I am excited to share the life of a fierce human being who has devoted her entire life’s work to caring for reptiles. That takes an indomitable warrior spirit!


Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor: The Woman Who Loved Reptiles

Written by Patricia Valdez Illustrated by Felicita Sala
Published by Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers (2018).
ISBN: 0399557261 (ISBN13: 9780399557262)
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

I didn’t even know about Joan Procter until I read this book. She was a fascinating woman who, as a young girl, loved being in the company of lizards, snakes, and turtles – rather than play with dolls.

While other young girls would ask for cute poodles or a tame goldfish in a glass bowl aquarium, Joan had a pet crocodile instead! She saw something in these reptiles that other people evidently are unable to appreciate. The War changed everything for Joan Procter. While the men are off doing the fighting, women had to take on work that they ordinarily would not have been considered for.

Joan, who loved spending time at the Natural History Museum, was hired as the assistant to the curator who knew instantly that there was something special about Joan, notwithstanding her lack of formal training in the field. Joan took over the progressive-minded curator when he retired.

This turned out to be one of the best decisions that the curator of the Natural History Museum has ever done. This wisp of a woman who loved spending time with lizards as a child – can now recreate their natural environment for them through her painstaking work, attention to detail, and sensitivity towards their plight. The work that she has done in documenting Komodo dragons is now well known and established throughout her field in herpetology.

Teachers would be happy to note that there is also an extensive Author’s Note at the end detailing Joan’s scientific accomplishments and her many publications in her discipline. There is also a commendable Bibliography that students and teachers can refer to for more information.


#WomenReadWomen2019: Country – United States of America (Patricia Valdez) and Italy (Felicita Sala)

Free Delivery on all Books at the Book Depository

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

2 comments on “[Nonfiction Wednesday] A Fierce Woman’s Fascination with Reptiles

  1. I just picked up this book from the library, Myra, now can’t wait to read it myself! Thanks for the review! There are some amazing people in our lives to learn about.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I was pleasantly surprised with this book. What a character!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: