Out of the Ice (Review)
Updated: Nov 21
Author: Claire Eamer
Illustrator: Drew Shannon
Publisher: Kids Can Press, 2018
Interest Age: 8 - 14
Reading Level: Grades 5 - 6; Guided Reading Level W, Lexile 1100L
Retail: $17.99, hardcover
Summary: Learn about important archaeological and paleontological discoveries that were made across the globe as ice thawed or moved.
The hook that drew me in to this book is the subtitle, "How Climate Change is Revealing the Past." I have seen plenty of books for children with mummies and frozen mammoths, but none that have placed such discoveries into this very timely context. I am glad I picked it up and gave it a thorough look. Out of the Ice is a non-fiction picture book complete with chapters and an index. Discoveries are described in a narrative fashion, a device that works well for children (and a lot of adults). Photos are intermixed with drawings in a bold, but minimalist style that is not babyish or "googly" (my husband's term). The book is 31 pages long and includes a glossary, timeline, and sources of additional information - standard stuff for science.
A few archaeological terms have inline pronunciation guides (e.g. atlatl = at-LA-tul). I would have liked to see more guides for place names and other non-English terms because I evaluated the text by reading it aloud to my youngest child. I had to fake it with Kwäday Dän Tsʼìnchi, seriously harming my mom/archaeologist cred. I took the liberty of calling him "Dan" after the first time his name appeared.
Out of the Ice book has a few of photographs of mummies (human and animal), but uses drawings to convey most of the information. Artists' conceptions can be wonderful for stirring the imagination, but gruesome photos can go a long way, particularly with reluctant readers. Fortunately, there are also photos of tools and other artifacts. Overall, the illustrations are modern looking and engaging.
How is climate change revealing the past? Spoiler alert: glaciers are moving, and many parts of the cryosphere are melting. Frozen clues about our past are thawing all over the world. This brings a sense of urgency to archaeological discovery, and this book does a good job of demonstrating how solid scientific practices are needed to get the most information out of these finds. I recommend this title as a classroom book for upper elementary or even middle school, and I hope it stays in print for many years to come.