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

The Leaf Detective: How Margaret Lowman Uncovered Secrets in the Rainforest By Heather Lang, Jana Christy (Illustrator) Cover Image

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

By Heather Lang, Jana Christy (Illustrator)


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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.
Heather Lang loves to write about real women who overcame extraordinary obstacles and never gave up on their dreams. Her award-winning picture book biographies include Fearless Flyer: Ruth Law and Her Flying Machine.

Jana Christy currently lives in the Berkshire Mountains in Massachusetts. She is the illustrator of various titles, including I'm the Big One Now!: Poems about Growing Up. Visit

Product Details ISBN: 9781684371778
ISBN-10: 1684371775
Publisher: Calkins Creek
Publication Date: February 9th, 2021
Pages: 48
Language: English
2022 Green Earth Book Award Winner
NCSS Septma Clark Award, Elementary Level Honoree
Junior Library Guild Selection
John Burroughs Association Riverby Award 
Honorable Mention, Sigurd F. Olson Nature Writing Award

"Lang’s text is rich with metaphor and personification...[and] Jana Christy’s stunning illustrations of the rainforest foliage are appropriately lush and vibrant, brimming with cool-toned greens and blues. This is artwork you’ll want to fall into face-first. The book’s back matter is as excellent as the primary narrative. It includes a lengthy author’s note, a hefty bibliography and a vertical spread that illustrates the layers of a rainforest, which is worth the cost of admission all by itself. The Leaf Detective is a wonderful introduction to a scientist who discovered her life’s passion by looking up."BookPage

"A nice addition to any rainforest or biography unit, this straightforward selection provides an inspiring portrayal and focuses on Lowman’s inventiveness and dedication through engaging, poetic text augmented by original quotes. Christy’s striking illustrations use leafy patterns and repetition of vignettes to underscore the White woman’s enthusiasm and determination... an exciting tale of exploration and adventure that will capture the attention of budding scientists and environmentalists alike. An intricate and satisfying portrait of a dedicated woman scientist, innovator, and activist." —Kirkus Reviews 

"Lang’s well-balanced coverage shares with audiences the vigor and daring that boosted Lowman into the canopy...and the global activism that now leads her to propose and develop sustainable commercial uses for protected rainforests. Christy’s digital artwork allows Lowman’s golden-haired figure to shine among the sun-dappled shade of the canopy and hints strongly at the vertiginous walkways and platforms Lowman calls workplace." —Bulletin for the Center of Children's Books

"This picture book, equal parts biography of Margaret 'Meg' Lowman and informational text about the rainforest, is pure joy. It's informative, interesting, and provides an account of a real woman who never gave up on her dreams in the face of significant obstacles."School Library Connection

"Any class of any age that explores nature, the rainforest specifically, and women at work should use this." —Kiss the Book

"Meg Lowman or 'Canopy Meg' is a true hero, a courageous explorer, who made amazing discoveries high in the forest canopy. The Leaf Detective captures the magic of that little-known world with its clear, informative text and fabulous illustrations. Young readers everywhere will be fascinated and inspired to learn more about nature."Jane Goodall, PhD, DBE, Founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and Pioneer of Peace

“Margaret Lowman is a pioneer scientist in a discipline that demands exceptional imagination, courage, and physical rigor. But of equal importance, she has created an extraordinarily important branch of environmental and conservation research. Heather Lang and Jana Christy, in this charming introduction, have invited us to climb on up and visit her.” Edward O. Wilson, Pulitzer Prize winner and Professor Emeritus, Harvard University