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When Sue Found Sue

When Sue Found Sue: Sue Hendrickson Discovers Her T. Rex

Toni Buzzeo, Illustrated by Diana Sudyka
32 pp.
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For children who constantly fill their pockets with treasures, there is the story of Sue Hendrickson. A child who loved to find things, Hendrickson grew up to discover a skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus rex.

In When Sue Found Sue, we learn that Hendrickson, who was shy and isolated in her early years, had little formal schooling but lots of curiosity. The story briefly touches on Hendrickson’s early career diving for lost ships and mining for amber before turning to her work digging for dinosaur fossils in South Dakota. There, she and a team of paleontologists—all driven by a passion for finding things—faced intense heat and spartan accommodations.

One day, Hendrickson ventured off alone and spotted bones she knew belonged to a T. rex. The team named the T. rex “Sue” in her honor. It is now displayed in a museum Hendrickson frequented as a child.

Quotes from Hendrickson give the tale an added boost of realism, but the text, in staying true to Hendrickson’s life, might occasionally leave young readers confused. (References to Dominican amber mines and “a long dispute about ownership” of the T. rex, for example, go unexplained.) Nonetheless, children will relate to Hendrickson’s joy in discoveries big and small, highlighted by splashes of yellow in the vibrant watercolor illustrations.

Hendrickson’s transition from a solitary outsider to an integral part of a team gives the story another note of optimism. One way to read the book’s title is as a straightforward description of the climactic moment when Sue the scientist found Sue the T. rex. But perhaps as Sue raced back to share her findings with the group of like-minded treasure hunters, she also found herself.

About the author

The reviewer is the letters editor at Science.