Mammoths and Mastodons
by Cheryl Bardoe

Price at time of review: $18.95
48 pp.
New York City, NY
ISBN: 9780810984134

Grade Level: 3-5

Reviewed by Juliana Texley
NSTA Web Field Editor

Combining paleontological evidence, research methods, and biological detail, this book provides an unusually detailed treatment of animals that many students may only have encountered in cartoons. Readers will meet the first Proboscideans through the eyes of modern scientists. This book's highly accurate and interesting treatment of the group earned it recognition as an NSTA/CBC Outstanding Science Trade Book for 2011.

Not all mammoths were large; a smaller body size allowed many that lived in polar regions to survive on less food. Mammoth teeth had sharp ridges for grinding grass while mastodon teeth had bumps for crushing bark. Growth rings in fossilized tusks and dried dung are providing invaluable clues as to why these mammals went extinct relatively recently in geologic time.

Sidebars and inset text take readers to ancient tundras, where mammoths struggled to survive. Dramatic portraits of bull mastodons facing off to determine mating rights make this book exciting as well as informative. Historical descriptions of fossil finds and maps add to the book's interdisciplinary potential. A final note on saving elephants provides an action step for readers. There is a short glossary, too few references, and a good index.

Review posted on 3/16/2011

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