Here’s a great non-fiction book for enthusiasts of the pre-historic era. It begins with an important discovery by two boys just north of the Arctic Circle in 2007. Two boys found a frozen baby mammoth. The mammoth, later named Lyuba by scientists, died nearly 40,000 years before and was fully intact.
Mammoths and Mastodons does a great job of connecting the past with the present. It includes information about the current scientific work of three paleontologists and how their work builds our understanding of these great creatures and how their work might be able to help us save elephants and other large mammals today. I learned in the book that elephants and mammoths lived at the same time, 5 million years ago. One of the questions scientists are trying to answer is “Why didn’t elephants go extinct when mammoths went extinct?”
In addition to the photographs throughout the book, there are interesting panels of information, like: Did dinosaurs and mammoths live at the same time? and Do these elephants and mammoths seem almost human?
This book is targeted toward upper elementary and middle school readers and would be a great book for students interested in prehistoric animals or modern day elephants.
I’ve found a non-fiction series that I just love, Scientists in the Field: Where Science Meets Adventure. The writing in these books is targeted toward older elementary and middle school students.
In The Snake Scientist, writer Sy Montgomery is joined by fabulous nature photographer Nic Bishop. (See my blog on Nic Bishop here. It just so happens that I wrote on his snake book. Bishop has an beautiful series of companion books to his Snakes book.)
The Snake Scientist follows the work of Robert Mason, Ph.D., a zoologist from Oregon State University who works studying the red-sided garter snakes in Manitoba province in Canada at the Narcisse Wildlife Management Area. There, drawn by the unique geology of the area, tens of thousands of harmless red-sided garter snakes make their home during the winter.
I really like this book, because it moves so effortlessly from topic to topic. This book describes how Bob Mason studies snakes and how he began his career as a scientist. You’ll find examples of how Mason uses the information he gathers to run experiments so he can study snake behavior. The Snake Scientist explains the impact of Mason’s work and how the study of snakes may even result in the development of cures for human diseases. The book also works to dispel common myths about snakes.
It’s no surprise to me that Nic Bishop’s photographs are stunning. Not only do you get a sense for the number of red-sided gartner snakes in the area (quite amazing), but you see pictures of scientists collecting snakes and measuring snakes and snakes in their natural habitats.
This book is not a survey of snakes, but any child interested in snakes or zoology will gain valuable insight into how a zoologist studying snakes goes about their work.
Highly recommended to future scientists and reptile fans.