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Baby Mammoth Mummy: Frozen in Time: A…
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Baby Mammoth Mummy: Frozen in Time: A Prehistoric Animal's Journey into…

by Christopher Sloan

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Fascinating story with great information and photographs. ( )
  Sullywriter | Apr 3, 2013 |
Type of non-fiction – Baby Mammoth is a combination of specialized book with a hint of photographic essay. It covers a unique topic, finding and investigating a baby mammoth mummy. It contains many photographs from the investigations following the finding of the baby mammoth called Lyuba by scientists working on her.

This book is part of the National Geographic Kids series. According to his biography the National Geographic web site http://www.nationalgeographicexpeditions.com/experts/christopher-sloan/detail “Christopher Sloan is an award-winning author and art director who specializes in bringing non-visual scientific research to life for diverse audiences. Christopher worked with National Geographic magazine from 1992 to 2010 as Art Director, Senior Editor, and Director of Mission Projects.” Sloan has written numerous non-fiction books aimed at 3rd – 6th graders. The web site also mentions his role as a “science communicator” … “that develops science content for media, TV, and print”. He discovered an ancient crocodile that now bears his name, Jungaarsuchus sloanii. On the whole the treatment of the native Nenet culture of Siberia was respectful.
There was some anthropomorphism of the baby mammoth. “Little Lyuba struggling for air while her mother and the other mammoths in the group look on helplessly.” (Page 29) and “Lyuba means love in Russian …seemed fitting for this charming little visitor from the past”. Lyuba (the wife of the Nenet man who found the mammoth) states that in her culture finding a mammoth is seen as a bad omen and she is not comfortable having this one named after her.
As far as I am able to judge this book is accurate. It seems to be relatively free of bias. The author does not cite sources in text or distinguish between fact, opinion, and theory. This does not seem to detract from the book.
The scope of this book is narrow it only discusses the finding of one baby mammoth mummy. It does not cover other mammoth finds.
The content is carefully and logically organized. Chapter 1 - finding the mammoth. Chapter 2 - the steps taken to investigate her. Chapter 3 – using that knowledge to recreate her world. The chapter endings lead into the next chapter. For example, “He couldn’t wait for the rest of the team to meet her.” page 15 and “Combining this sort of detailed information about mammoths with findings about other prehistoric animals, plants, and climate markers makes it possible for Fisher and other scientist to reconstruct the Ice Age world and suggest reasons for the mammoths’ extinction.” (page 31). Language Level – According to Destiny the reading level is 6.6 and the interest level is grades 3-6. The language is precise. Abstract concepts such as time and carbon dating are explained using a combination of text and visual displays. The language is vivid “The whoosh of a sled” page 10 and “Yuri’s stomach dropped” page 13. Although only a few are used similes and metaphors increase the vividness of the text, “for them it was like opening a treasure chest”. Background Expectations – The background knowledge required to read this book is an understanding of time as it relates to prehistoric animals. Lyuba lived 42,000 years ago. A reader would also need some basic scientific knowledge such as extinction, and the scientific method because the book describes the steps scientists use to investigate Lyuba. For example they hypothesize that she suffocated in mud. These concepts are covered in most fourth and fifth grade science classes. Readers also need to be able to read simple graphs and charts. The tone of this book is neutral. For example, “Mammoths play a powerful role In Nenet mythology.”

This book contains at least one bright and colorful illustration on each page. There are numerous photographs and at least 5 full page paintings depicting Lyuba’s life and death. There are the results of a CT scan performed on the mummy. There are also timelines, maps, and graphs. The illustrations are well captioned and help increase a readers understanding of the text. This book includes an index and a bibliography.
There is one sidebar, “Sealed in time” (pg. 30) that describes how the mammoth was preserved. The text
and the pictures work together to explain the concept. The pictures would have been better if they were larger.

10. Inserted information – There are three examples of inserted information “Mammoths, mastodons, elephants and more” (pages 16-17), “How do we know how old things are?”(pages 32-33), and “Re-creating a vanishing world” (pages 44-45). These seem appropriate for the book and do a good job making abstract concepts understandable. They also examine animals other than mammoths that are related to but outside the scope of the book. The pictures and graph support the text well.
Introduction - The introduction is one page long and was written by Bernard Buigues, the director of the Mammuthus Project a Geneva, Switzerland based group that searches for and houses mammoth mummies for scientific study. Buigues tells why this find was so important. It was the most intact mammoth mummy found to date. Studying the mammoth may help answer questions about the history of the world.
There are several types of visual display in this book. The visual displays in Baby Mammoth work in concert with the text to improve a reader’s understanding of the book. The visual displays contain maps of the area where the mammoth was found numerous photographs including pictures of the man who found Lyuba, his family, scientists examining the ,mammoth. The photographs all include explanatory captions. Every page includes at least one visual display. These are all tied to the text and none seem to be too abstract for elementary students.
As a school librarian I would use this book. Mummies and elephants are popular with my students. So this book should fill the bill. The bright illustrations and readable text should make it approachable to students. This book would be useful for an index lesson and an overview of a non-fiction book. The Common Core will require students to compare texts on the same topic. This book could be used with either of the books in my collection on mammoths (Wooly Mammoth and Mammoths and Mastodons) to make a Venn diagram comparing the books. I have several students in first and second grade who love prehistoric animals. I will probably read this book with their classes.
Science lessons could cover mammals, other animals of the era and area, extinction, scientific research, and mummies. For several years my students made mummies by preserving apples in salt, sand, and/or baking soda. Maybe there are lessons or experiments about making frozen mummies. Math lessons with the book could encompass the age of the mammoth, the distance it traveled, geography. Social studies students could investigate Siberia, the Arctic, the Nenet people and their culture, the Stone Age people who hunted mammoths.
Here are sites with lesson plans about Lyuba and “Waking Baby Mammoth” a documentary about her. I would show the documentary after reading the book.

http://www.enotes.com/topic/Lyuba

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DrpouDrM_x4 ( )
  rwilliamson | Apr 14, 2012 |
A baby mammoth, frozen and perfectly preserved was found in Siberia. Together, scientists learned many things from the mummy: what she ate, how she died, when she lived, and a little about what the world was like 40,000 years ago.

This book is well laid-out with large color photographs and sidebars and charts that add to the text. Kids fascinated with dinosaurs and prehistoric life will certainly dig this book, as will budding archaeologists and zoologists. Back matter includes resources, online resources, a glossary, and an index. ( )
  abbylibrarian | Mar 3, 2012 |
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Tells the story of the discovery of Lyuba, a perfectly preserved baby mammoth discovered along a river in Siberia 31,000 years after her birth, and offers a glimpse into her prehistoric world.

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