One of the first books I remember reading was Miss Pickerell Goes to Mars written by Ellen MacGregor and illustrated by Paul Galdone. It was published in 1951. It had a strong influence on me. Many other young readers apparently felt the same way as evidenced by the comments on this page at Goodreads. That book made me hungry for more adventures in science by the independent spinster with a pet cow who was willing to say what was on her mind.
I read about her trips to the Arctic and the Undersea as well as her adventure with a Geiger Counter. The science in each book was explained in ways a young person could understand. I have no doubt those books helped reinforce my interest in science. I became a teacher of physics for my career. Thank you, Miss Lavinia Pickerell and Ellen MacGregor.
MacGregor first wrote for publication in 1946. A class assignment for the Midwest Writers Conference was later published as a book Tommy and the Telephone. Miss Lavinia Pickerell first appeared in a story by MacGregor called Swept Her Into Space published by Liberty Magazine in 1950. That story was expanded to book length in 1951 and published as Miss Pickerell Goes to Mars.
She wanted to offer literature to children with an emphasis on science. Much of the science was not considered known or tested and was classified as science fiction. The explanations in the books used the best known science of the day to tell the stories. Her works were well received by critics. Her first Miss Pickerell book about Mars was the initial selection of the new Weekly Reader Children’s Book Club. I still have a pin I got for reading a certain number of book club selections in grade school.
Three more Miss Pickerell adventures followed before MacGregor’s early death. Copies of the four books are available in different formats from Fadedpage. This link to the Ellen MacGregor collection describes each and provides formats in txt, html, kindle, epub, pdf, and zip files for download.
MacGregor kept many notes on more books she intended to write about Miss Pickerell. Twelve additional books were written from those notes by author Dora Pantell between 1965 and 1986. More contemporary topics were in these later Miss Pickerell adventures such as harvesting the sea, weather satellites, earthquake rescue, supertankers, energy crisis, blue whales, and the war on computers. I have not read these books by Pantell. But, I am confident they are good.