Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor: The Woman Who Loved Reptiles

Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor: The Woman Who Loved Reptiles
Written by Patricia Valdez, Illustrated by Felicita Sala

Publisher’s Summary:
A picture book biography of Joan Procter, an English woman who loved reptiles and, while a curator of reptiles at the London Zoo in the 1920s, worked with Komodo dragons.

Primary Source Pairing:
Joan Procter was an incredible scientist who contributed greatly to reptile science. She also defied societal norms and became the curator of reptiles at the London Zoo; she designed a revolutionary Reptile House in the 1920s that changed the future of reptile enclosures. There is much to learn from Joan Procter. Depending on the age of students and time for discussion, there are two options for primary source pairings presented below for Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor: The Woman Who Loved Reptiles.

The first option is to do a close, slow look at a photograph of a Komodo dragon. These fascinating creatures are sure to capture the interests of all readers as they learn more about the largest living species of lizards in the world. Invite students to analyze this image from Wikimedia Commons and begin a discussion about reptiles.

The second option is to study a newspaper article published in the Reading Eagle on September 11, 1927, titled ” ‘Charms’ Snakes So Visitors To Zoo May See Them Better,” highlighting the work of Joan Procter at the London Zoo. Use the questions below as a guide to begin a discussion about point of view, bias, and how news was reported then and how it is reported now. An image of the article is included above; however, be sure to show the students the entire newspaper page linked below.

Newspaper Analysis Questions for Discussion:

  • What text do you notice first?
  • How is the text and other information arranged on the page?
  • What details indicate when this was published?
  • Who do you think was the audience for this publication?
  • What can you tell about the point of view of the people who produced this?
  • How would this be different if produced today? How would this be the same?

Book Cover and Summary: Follett
Komodo Dragon photograph: Wikimedia Commons
” ‘Charms’ Snakes So Visitors To Zoo May See Them Better,” Reading Eagle, September 11, 1927. Available online via Google News.