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The Griffin and the Dinosaur: How Adrienne Mayor Discovered a Fascinating Link Between Myth and Science
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The Griffin and the Dinosaur: How Adrienne Mayor Discovered a Fascinating Link Between Myth and Science

4.1  ·  Rating details ·  157 Ratings  ·  43 Reviews
Growing up in South Dakota, Adrienne Mayor was the quiet girl who never raised her hand in class. Instead, she loved to wander the prairie seeking wonders and filling her mind with stories.

When she found herself in Athens, Greece, she plunged into reading the original versions of ancient myths--especially descriptions of the fabled griffin. As she read, an exciting idea to
Hardcover, 48 pages
Published April 8th 2014 by National Geographic Children's Books
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Feb 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
I remember back in 2007 when the American Museum of Natural History in NYC premiered a show called “Mythic Creatures”. It made a fair amount of press and with good reason. It’s not every day you see full-scale models of mythical creatures presented in a serious museum setting. The show got some nice write-ups but though I listened to the explanations of why it was going on, I didn’t quite catch the whole point. To me it just sort of sounded like a cheap ploy to lure more patrons into the museum’ ...more
Jul 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Personally, 3.5 rounded up because if I were a kid I would have loved this, been inspired to read more non-fiction, and probably been inspired to have a similar career trajectory as did Mayor. World travel? Scholarship? Exploration? Science? Authorship? She's done it all. How fun, and how satisfying.

(Sorry, I don't know what exactly is imperfect about it for me right now... something idiosyncratic I'm sure. I do recommend the book.)
Mar 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: ???
This was an excellent book and is gorgeous as well. It has one big problem: I just don't see the book being used a lot by kids. Those who find it and love mythology (a lot now, thanks to Riordan) will really enjoy this book. It will open their imaginations to wondering what else has been considered straight fiction that has a basis in reality. But this book won't be used a lot for homework assignments and reports, more the pity. It isn't recounting any myths, it doesn't give enough info to be us ...more
Catalina Charles
Dec 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
Gr 5-8. Marc Aronson has come together with folklorist/historian Adrienne Mayor to create this intriguing account of the development of the mythical creature the griffin of ancient lore. How did the ancients create these amazing creatures? Were they simply from a very creative mind or was there something in their environment that may have led them to believe in these creatures? Creatures such as the Cyclops and water monsters bear great resemblance to bones of ancient dinosaurs. The Griffin and ...more
Rob Chappell
Aug 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book is an amazing, eye-opening read about the relationship between the fantastic creatures of Classical mythology and fossils of prehistoric creatures that have been (re)discovered over the last 200 years, because the major point of this book is that our ancient forebears were well aware of fossils and created legendary accounts of dragons, unicorns, griffins, etc., to explain their existence. Here's a fascinating, well-illustrated overview of this revolutionary hypothesis, along with an i ...more
Apr 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Another engaging title by Marc Aronson. I love the idea of a girl taking years to take a closer look at things that she is curious about--and how Aronson takes us back to her grandfather's influence on her world view before bringing in the research topic. This will be great paired with Monsters & Legends by Davide Cali, another title that addresses the link between real animals and mythological creatures.
May 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This was a great though provoking book, asking "what if the mythology of Greece were based on tangible evidence?", and following the quest of Mayor to discover the origin of the Griffin legend in particular. With some other legends tosses in, this was an enjoyable, succinct read.
Paul Warner
Jul 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This non-fiction book for young people let's you know about a woman named Adrienne Mayor who carefully read the ancient myths and texts of Greeks and Romans to see if the ideas for some of their mythical creatures actually came from their own excavation and study of dinosaur bones. This is the story of a curious and persevering person who came up with new ideas to solve the mystery of the Griffin, and helped to invent a new science in the process. Adrienne Mayor, by the way, became an author, re ...more
Tom Ericksen
This was an interesting book about proving that people tell stories, but within the stories there is sometimes truth hidden. I think this would be a great book for any fantasy or science fiction enthusiasts. I liked the illustrations and real life photos.
R. G. Nairam
Fascinating! writing was a little meh at points, but great book.
Aug 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
So cool! I didn't realize these ideas were so recent. I'll be checking out more materials on/by Adrienne Mayor!
Becky B
Adrienne Mayor grew up in a family of storytellers. Often those stories were inspired by artifacts or things found in nature. When she eventually went to spend some time studying ancient art in Greece, Adrienne realized that the stories of griffins weren't like fantasy stories, they were more like something inspired by a real object, like the stories her family used to tell. So she started to do more extensive research into griffins in art and what things ancients might have seen that would insp ...more
Margaux Collier
Feb 05, 2017 rated it it was ok
Adrienne Mayor is a little girl who grew up in Sioux Fall, Dakota. She loved to “walk across the endless flat prairie” (Aronson pg.7) She imagined how life was for the people that lived before her, Adrienne felt like she was following the footsteps of her great-grandfather, George Halleck Center. Her dad, John, liked collecting things such as arrowheads, a Gila monster, snapping turtles, butterflies, and creatures that lived underneath for million years. As Adrienne grew, she was the kind of tha ...more
An exciting adventure in a way, this story begins with Adrienne Mayor born in 1946, as a young schoolgirl who is fascinated by mythology and in particular with the story of the Griffin. How does a shy, quiet kid from Souix Falls, South Dakota, come to develop a new field of research - geomythology? This book by Marc Aronson follows her path as student from country to country as she searches through ancient texts about mythical creatures. This is no easy task as she learns ancient languages i ...more
Gavin Flint
Apr 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Core Curricular tie that can be made with this text: Science and Social Studies

Detailed Explanation of how this text can be used to support instruction in the core curricular area: This book bridges a gap between science and history showing how science can be used to debunk myths of mythological creatures. It could be used both as an illustration of paleontology and the study of dinosaurs and also about common ideas in ancient myth and how they formed.

Rationale for choosing this particular text
Jane Drabkin
Jun 15, 2014 rated it liked it
This was a fascinating story of an amateur seeing history from a new perspective and thereby discovering the link between creatures from mythology and prehistoric animals. I picked this book up without any idea what it was about and I found the first chapter about the Mayer family out on the prairie confusing, it took me a long while to understand the connection between Adrienne's way of thinking and her research. The picture of the girl standing on the prairie with a cross-section of the earth ...more
Oct 01, 2015 rated it liked it

3.1 stars

Interesting illustrations and photographs accompany the information about Adrienne Mayor and her extensive research to attempt to show a relationship between creatures in mythology and fossils that ancient peoples may have encountered. She specifically has shown that finding fossils of a dinosaur called Protoceratops may have been the reason that ancient peoples developed tales and images of griffins. Griffins were creatures in ancient Greece with the body of a lion and the head of an e
Aug 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
I remember seeing a part of a show about this a few years ago. I retained the information since it was fascinating but then I pushed it aside. Recently browsing on amazon I came across this book and my old intrest was peeked so after finding it at the library I had to get it to read.
This book is a great introduction for younger people since it's very simple. and has some beautiful artwork at the beginning of each chapter. It is the perfect mixture of history, mystery, and mythology.
Chelsea Couillard-Smith
An accessible, engaging read for elementary schoolers. Aronson focuses on Mayor's career and the many challenges and happy accidents that led to her discovery of a connection between mythology and paleontology. As a self-taught scholar, Mayor's journey is appealing, and young fans of mythological creatures will enjoy poring over the visuals that ably reinforce the links Mayor discovered between myth and fact.
Kate McCartney
Jul 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
One women decides to dig into the legend of the mystical creature the griffin. She proves over the course of several decades that the Greek creature was really an explanation from the ancient culture to explain the strange large bones they would find. Bones that were really that of dinosaurs.

Great book for middle aged readers. There is true magic in how myth and history are woven to tell this story.
Questions about ancient monsters lead Adrienne Mayor on a history-mystery hunt that results in some insightful connections between mythology and fossils. This is a well documented description of Mayor's research process that chronicles her failures as well as successes. An impressive study that celebrates research and imagination.
Robin Rivers
Although billed as an educational tool for kids, this is a great introduction to the life and research of classical historian Adrienne Mayor. The quick read left me with many new resources for research and revelation. Mayor's field of study, combining myth, classical archeology and paleontology, is truly fascinating.
May 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating! An invitation to explore, question, imagine. I was not convinced by the cover that this would be a story that would interest me. I was wrong! I especially loved that the role of the scientist-researcher, Adrienne Mayor, really comes through in this story that connects myth and science. I will explore further!
Nov 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
This fascinating book traces Adrienne Mayor's journey back through Greek mythology to find the fossils that gave rise to the legend of the Griffin. She believed that mythical creatures were not created out of thin air, but rather had a basis in fossils found by the ancient civilizations that created the myths. Her journey of discovery is fascinating! Recommended for grades 3 & up.
Edward Sullivan
The fascinating and completely engrossing story of a largely self-taught scholar's irrepressible quest to discover the scientific basis of a mythological creature. This is the sort of book that will spark the imagination of readers and inspire them to seek their own answers to questions through research, observation, and investigation.
Jody Kopple
Aug 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Awesome. Intriguing. Endless possibilities for the classroom, and an inspiring woman. The connection between mythical creatures and dinosaur fossils makes perfect sense and will capture the imagination of many children.
Debby Baumgartner
A true story of Adrienne Mayor. She believes perhaps ancient man discovered bones of ancient animals and created myths to explain their existence. She believes this to be true with her own research on the mythical Griffin.
Feb 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I love the connection between science and mythology in this book! I can't wait to share it with my fifth graders next year. We study Ancient Greece and this book will provide a wonderful insight into Greek myths!
Jan 15, 2015 added it
I love stories of self-motivated science that has been so solidly researched and investigated that it's become widely accepted. This story is fascinating. I will be recommending it to all small paleontologists and mythologists that enter the book store for some time to come.
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Aronson has won many awards for his books for young readers and has a doctorate in American history. His lectures cover educational topics such as mysteries and controversies in American history, teenagers and their reading, the literary passions of boys, and always leave audiences asking for more.

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