Book review: Charlotte’s Bones: The Beluga Whale in a Farmer’s Field, by Erin Rounds, illustrated by Alison Carver

Rounds, Erin. Charlotte’s Bones: The Beluga Whale in a Farmer’s Field. Illustrated by Alison Carver. Tilbury House Publishers, 2018. $17.95. ISBN 9780884484851. Unpaged. Ages 8-11. P7 Q8

This lovely book tells how 11,500 years ago, a Beluga whale (called Charlotte in this story) becomes stranded in a pool by the outgoing tide and dies. We learn how her flesh disappeared and silt and clay covered her body, and after thousands of years, her bones are discovered in a field in Vermont. I loved how this scientific topic is talked about in vocabulary-rich, lyric language and illustrated with beautiful, colorful paintings. The last pages have more detailed historical and scientific information, and there is a glossary. On the back flap, it says, “Tilbury House Nature Books seek to combine scientific accuracy with storytelling magic.” I think they succeeded.

VERDICT: I can see this book being used in science, history, and English lessons in schools, and it will be popular in my children’s section at a public library.

December 2019 review by Carol Schramm.

Book review: Charlie Numb3rs and the Woolly Mammoth, by Ben and Tonya Mezrich

Mezrich, Ben and Tonya Mezrich. Charlie Numb3rs and the Woolly Mammoth. (Charlie Numbers series, book 3.) Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2019. $17.99. 183 pages. ISBN 9781534441002. Ages 8-12. P7 Q7

Charlie is on a Cargo ship being chased and heading for freezing water. He has two choices; he can be caught or he can jump into freezing water. The adventure then goes back two weeks to when Charlie and his friends, all Whiz Kids, find a bone while they are on a field trip to the Boston Public Gardens. Stumped by what the object is, they take it to a science professor at Harvard to be identified. This discovery leads to more questions and new friends who are also scientists. The new friends include Janice and Rod. While Janice is sweet and kind, Rod is a bully and mean. They work together to solve the mystery of the “bone” and why it was found in Boston. The cast of friends include a black girl in a wheelchair (Janice), a Japanese boy, two redheaded boys, boys from a wealthy suburb and some from the city, which offer a diversity in characters. The friends use carbon dating, Boston trivia, and science factoids as they seek to figure out the mystery. Fossils and rocks are highlighted in the story and a rock is actually a clue to the origin of how the “bone” arrived at the Boston Public Gardens. While Rod is a bully, as the story develops, Rod’s backstory comes to light and the dynamics between the friends change in a positive direction. This is the third novel In the Charlie Numbers series, but can stand alone.

Verdict: If you have a child interested in fossils, rocks, carbon dating or science, they would enjoy this adventure.

The reader will learn a lot about fossils, Africa, elephant tusk trade and science as they read this mystery. While the book appears to be lighthearted, one will learn a lot. The themes of friendship, giving others a chance and looking beyond the obvious come through strongly in this book. This would be a great read aloud for a teacher or a good book for families to read together.

November 2019 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: Rock Explorer series, two titles by Claudia Martin

Martin, Claudia. Fossils. (Rock Explorer series). QEB/Quarto Publishing, 2018. $26.65. ISBN 9781682973264. 24 pages. Ages 6-9. P7 Q8

Not only can fossils tell us about the past, they are fun to find and there are so many types. Starting off with the definition of fossils and moving on to how fossils form this reference book includes photographs and facts that will entice children to learn more about fossils. Fossil facts are inserted among the photographs, which makes it easy to read and not overwhelming. This book can be read straight through or readers can pick and choose the chapters they are interested in. In the Rock Explorer series, this book Includes a table of contents, glossary and fossil guide.

Verdict: Children who are interested in learning more about fossils will enjoy this book, which is full of facts and photographs. This book is great for units on fossils. I work in an elementary school and students often ask me how fossils and petrified wood are formed. This book has easy to understand explanations of fossil formation. As an adult who likes to find fossils, I found this book interesting and engaging.


Martin, Claudia. Minerals. (Rock Explorer series). QEB/Quarto Publishing, 2018. $26.65. ISBN 9781682973240. 24 pages. Ages 6-9. P7 Q8

What is a mineral and how does it form? Did you know that there are around 5,000 different minerals? Mineral facts inserted around the colorful photographs will keep children’s interest. This book features amazing crystals, shining metals, strange and powerful minerals, most deadly minerals, and useful minerals. In the Rock Explorer series, this book includes a table of contents, glossary and mineral guide. The photographs are large and colorful. Readers will be not only be able to identify minerals, they will also know why the minerals are important.

Verdict: Children who are interested in minerals will enjoy this fact filled book filled with beautiful photographs. Useful for a unit on minerals. As an adult who likes to learn more about minerals, I found this book interesting and engaging.

March 2018 reviews by Tami Harris.

Book review: Explore Fossils!: With 25 Great Projects, by Cynthia Light Brown and Grace Brown

Brown, Cynthia Light and Grace Brown. Explore Fossils! With 25 Great Projects. (Series: Explore Your World). Illus. Bryan Stone. Nomad, 2016. $14.95. 96p. 978-1-61930-335-5. Ages 8-11. P8Q8

Brown Explore FossilsA brown bear (?) and a green pterosaur conduct the readers through the history of the earth as identified by geologists, archaeologists, and paleontologists—with explanations of these terms and many more. The clear explanations begin with a timeline that provides information for each unit of the geologic timescale and then move on to types of fossils, the process of their formation, and ways to identify times such as radiometric dating. Although the title uses only the term “fossils,” two chapters are also devoted to dinosaurs, always a subject of delight for young readers. Exercises are involving as readers can create their own plaster fossils, coal, a lava flow, an asteroid impact, and radiometric dating through the use of popcorn. The authors understand their audience and how to engage them while providing definitions and incidental facts.

April 2016 review by Nel Ward.