The deepest dig

Mark David Smith, 1972-

Book - 2021

"Inspired by a real-life 2015 discovery by a farmer in Michigan, this is a story about a boy named Caden who digs up a prehistoric woolly mammoth skeleton in his backyard. A recent heavy rain has exposed a bit of something in the yard, which Caden notices and resolves to dig up. He attempts to enlist the help of the adults in his life, who humorously dismiss his discovery. His classroom teacher jokes, "If you had found one of those, I'd eat my hat." Well, against all odds Caden has found "one of those," namely the bones of a woolly mammoth. And the story does wrap with some hat-eating (albeit with a twist). Martha, Caden's next-door neighbor, is the only adult who encourages him to keep digging. Working to...gether and using Martha's truck winch, they haul the biggest bones out of the earth and try to assemble the pieces, which results in several funny combinations. In the end, Caden succeeds in getting his parents' attention, and they're amazed by the giant mammoth skeleton inexpertly pieced together in their own backyard. Even more so, they're amazed and impressed by the tenacity and drive of their young son. Not only has he connected the pieces of the mammoth, Caden has also brought his family together, which is the real treasure Caden finds by the end. The rich-but-restrained illustrations perfectly complement the book's deadpan humor in this kid-empowering story that is also a celebration of scientific inquiry and discovery."--

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Location Call Number   Status
Children's Room jE/Smith Checked In
Picture books
Toronto, ON ; Berkeley, CA : Owlkids Books [2021]
Main Author
Mark David Smith, 1972- (author)
Other Authors
Lily Snowden-Fine (illustrator)
Physical Description
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 27 cm
Contents unavailable.
Review by School Library Journal Review

PreS-Gr 1--Caden finds something peeping out of the soil in his backyard, "long as a fence post, hard as a stone." He tries to convince both of his parents that he has uncovered a treasure, but neither believes him. With the help of his neighbor Martha and her winch-equipped truck, he unearths an entire woolly mammoth skeleton, which he and Martha reconstruct together. Clever and colorful illustrations show the mother as brown-skinned, father as white with red hair, and include funny pictoral asides, such as the dog running off with one of the bones, and a human skeleton hanging inside Caden's classroom. These add considerable charm to the story. Still, the narrative teeters between the believable and the fantastic, and never quite lands on either. While the blurb on the jacket mentions that the author was "inspired by the discovery of a mammoth skeleton on a Michigan farm," there is no author's note or back matter to explain this. Susan Lendroth's Here We Go Digging for Dinosaur Bones is a better choice for young paleontologists-to-be. VERDICT While ardent dinosaur fans might get a laugh out of this book, there are better options.--Sue Morgan, Hillsborough City School District, Hillsborough, CA

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Review by Kirkus Book Review

Undeterred by scoffing grown-ups, a child unearths a prehistoric treasure in his backyard. His parents laugh at Caden's news that he's found a treasure sticking out of the ground. In front of Caden's whole class, his teacher rashly vows to eat his hat if there's anything there. But with help from his neighbor Martha and the winch on her truck, Caden astounds the skeptics by determinedly pulling a pile of big bones out of the ground and, with a little guesswork, assembling a fossil mammoth: "Surprise!" Several extra and out-of-place bones in the climactic reveal will raise chuckles, as will closing news stories about how, while the skeleton, which has been sold to a museum for a "record price," will be going on tour with Caden's family, a certain teacher will be sponsoring a hat-eating contest to raise funds for a paleontology club. The sparely told tale, inspired by a similar actual discovery, may in turn inspire young readers to take closer looks at their own supposedly familiar surroundings. Snowden-Fine illustrates Smith's understated tale with naïve-style paintings rendered in a flat-perspective with broad swaths of color. A particularly striking spread depicts a dream in which towering mammoths walk along streets lined with row houses, with Caden, his dog, his parents, and Martha riding atop them. Caden is a child of color with interracial parents; his classmates are diverse, and the teacher and Martha both have pale skin. Score one for quiet persistence. (Picture book. 6-8) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.