Digging up Bones

As a school librarian, there are often opportunities to get my hands on a book before final publication. These printed books are softcover uncorrected proofs that are not for sale and not to be catalogued into the library collection. They are called advance reading copies or ARCs.

For years, I have returned from AASL and ALA conferences with ARCs for my students. As a steward of public funds, I find they are a good way to test the waters for student interest in a title before spending precious budget dollars. But recently, with the advent of social media, ARCs are offered up to interested parties via Facebook, Instagram, websites, etc.

This summer, Turner Publishing offered ARCs of a November 2018 release of Mammoth by Jill Baguchinsky and I jumped at the opportunity to read a YA novel published fairly locally.

I did a little digging on the author's website and found this quote by Sarah Glenn Marsh, author of the Reign of the Fallen Leaves series:

“Nerds and fashionistas alike can rejoice: Natalie is the unapologetically awesome heroine we’ve all been waiting for! Fresh and fun, this story is a love letter to paleontology, a great example of women in STEM, and a victory for anyone who’s ever wanted to change what they see in the mirror. I can’t say it enough: this book is a must-read!” 

Needless to say, I was looking forward to the arrival of my ARC.

Fittingly, I took it with me last weekend to read on my way to New Orleans for the annual conference of the American Library Association, and I was not disappointed.

Mammoth hits all the high points for someone such as myself purchasing for a teen audience. It's edgy, but not so edgy that I question its appropriateness for the audience I serve. It has romance, but not so much romance that it's a girl read, exclusively. It has adults who are role models and some who aren't, just like IRL.

In Mammoth, Baguchinsky has crafted an ensemble cast of young adult characters I recognize. They are not perfect, but they are not yet finished. They have lessons to learn and they learn them.

Unlike the artifacts of the creatures they are seeking, Baguchinsky's characters are not extinct, but very much alive. They are smart and driven––sometimes to a fault. The plot pitfalls send up some pretty glaring warning flares to the adult reader, but just as in life, the young characters in Mammoth often either don't recognize those warning signs or make the choice to discount them.

Mammoth has a strong STEM focus and Natalie Page is a strong female main character. I believe the book will resonate with my high school readers. Having once been a teen myself (It's true!) it still resonated with me.

I'll be pre-ordering the hardcover for my library for the fall. I can't help myself, I am digging Mammoth because it ROCKS!


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