Out of School and Into Nature

The Anna Comstock Story

Winner of the 2018 Green Earth Book Award.

This picture book biography examines the life and career of naturalist and artist Anna Comstock (1854-1930), who defied social conventions and pursued the study of science. From the time she was a young girl, Anna Comstock was fascinated by the natural world. She loved exploring outdoors, examining wildlife and learning nature's secrets. From watching the teamwork of marching ants to following the constellations in the sky, Anna observed it all. And her interest only increased as she grew older and went to college at Cornell University. There she continued her studies, pushing back against those social conventions that implied science was a man's pursuit. Eventually Anna became known as a nature expert, pioneering a movement to encourage schools to conduct science and nature classes for children outdoors, thereby increasing students' interest in nature. In following her passion, this remarkable woman blazed a trail for female scientists today.

Format List Price Your Price Qty
$16.99 $16.99
$28.99 $28.99
Interest Level Grade 1 - Grade 4
Reading Level Grade 4
Dewey 508.092
Lexile 670L
ATOS Reading Level 3.9
Guided Reading Level N
Language English
Publisher Sleeping Bear Press
Available Formats Hardcover (9781585369867), PDF (9781634723992), Hosted ebook (9781634724296)
Copyright 2017
Number of Pages 32
Dimensions 10 x 10
Graphics Full-color illustrations
  • 2017 Creative Child Magazine Book of the Year Award - Biography Picture Books Category, Winner
  • 2018 NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12 List
  • Amelia Bloomer List, Commended, 2018
  • 2018 Green Earth Book Award, Commended, 2018
  • California Reading Association's EUREKA! Honor Award, Winner, 2017
  • Sigurd F. Olson Nature Writing Award, Winner, 2017

School Library Journal - Out of School and Into Nature

Gr 1-4–Readers are introduced to naturalist Anna Comstock’s enthusiasm for nature right from the opening sentence: “From the time she was no higher than a daisy, Anna was wild about nature.” Comstock’s (1854–1930) early love of the outdoors inspired her course of study at college, where she doubled as an artist and a scientist. Later, she noticed that many young people spent a large amount of time indoors during the school day, so she developed lessons to assist teachers with familiarizing students with wildlife. Comstock’s quotes flutter across pages like a butterfly. Her story is sure to motivate teachers and librarians to take their students on a nature walk, while budding naturalists will sprout their own ideas of exploration. A springtime watercolor palette complements the carefully selected quotes. VERDICT There is always room on library shelves for a well-crafted STEM-related picture book biography, and this one is sure to find an appreciative audience “faster than dandelion seeds on a windy day.”

Publishers Weekly - Out of School and into Nature

Slade (The Music in George’s Head) and Lanan’s (The Story I’ll Tell) account of the life of artist and naturalist Anna Comstock unfolds against an airy, pastoral landscape, where she observed the local flora and fauna of the countryside. As Comstock grew older, so did her love for science and nature, leading her to study at Cornell and spearhead efforts to get children outdoors at school, where they could examine nature firsthand. Quotations from Comstock are sprinkled throughout, accompanied by Slade’s gentle narration: “Anna believed that children should experience nature too. They needed to hold it close in their fingers, feel it squish between their toes.” It’s a lovely tribute to a pioneering educator. Ages 6–10.

Booklist - Out of School and Into Nature

In this picture-book biography, the life of naturalist, artist, and education reformer Anna Comstock is told with easy-to-follow facts, Comstock’s own words, and charming illustrations. Comstock was born in 1854, and instead of taking the traditional route for women at the time, she went to college to study “her first love—nature.” Comstock’s illustrations and engravings were used to teach farmers about insects, and she started a teacher education program designed to bring children outside. While the text reads a bit like a story, interspersed quotes from Comstock root it in reality. Though not many will be familiar with Comstock, her story is told with such warmth and admiration that people will be rooting for her the entire time. Lanan’s pencil-and-watercolor illustrations are done with loving attention to detail; young nature lovers in particularly might delight in the close-up details on different bugs. This sweet biography is perfect for fans of Patrick McDonnell’s Me . . . Jane (2011), or any child who relishes the feeling of mud squishing between their toes.

Starred Kirkus Reviews - Out of School and Into Nature

Slade and Lanan bring the biography of scientist Anna Comstock to young readers. A true story about an early champion of nature education, this beautifully illustrated watercolor picture book introduces young readers to Anna Botsford Comstock, a white woman born in 1854. At a time when girls were expected to get married, then stick close to home and take care of their families, Anna’s “heart belonged to her first love—nature.” She attended Cornell University to study entomology and also honed her artistic craft in drawing insects. Anna Comstock insisted that New York state integrate nature study into classroom lessons and allow children to experience nature while in school. “People thought she was crazy. Didn’t she know school rules? Students learn inside. Students play outside!” But eventually, Anna’s ideas prevailed, and science and nature remain vital aspects of American education today, in part because of Anna’s early advocacy. The story opens with a barefoot Anna sitting on a fallen log, dipping her toes into the water, and it ends with Anna as an old woman, perched on that same log with her feet and the bottom of her skirt dangling in the water. Quotes from her writing augment the illustrations in a complementary display type. The informative backmatter fills in more details about the life and accomplishments of this naturalist, writer, scholar, and forward-thinking female pioneer. An inspirational must-read for budding scientists and those who teach them. (notes, bibliography) (Picture book. 5-8)

Author: Suzanne Slade

As a girl, Suzanne Slade spent her summers at Tippecanoe Lake in Indiana where she enjoyed watching many tadpoles, turtles, and beautiful butterflies. A geek at heart, Suzanne is the award-winning author of dozens of nature and science books. Her latest picture book, The Inventor’s Secret, is a 2016 NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book. Suzanne lives in Libertyville, Illinois.

Illustrator: Jessica Lanan

Jessica Lanan grew up in Colorado and spent her childhood out exploring nature, just like Anna. She decided to pursue illustration after bringing a set of watercolors with her on a trip around the world. Jessica lives in Boulder, Colorado, with her husband and three-legged cat. When she’s not painting or drawing, she’s often out hiking, biking, or dancing the Argentine Tango. Visit her online at jessicalanan.com.

  • Beginning of text
  • More about Anna
Author/Illustrator biography
Full-color illustrations