2019 Moonbeam Silver Medal
Many thousands of years ago, when a sheet of ice up to a mile thick began to let go of the land, the Atlantic Ocean flooded great valleys that had been scooped out by glaciers, and the salty waves of an inland sea lapped the green hills of Vermont. Into this arm of the sea swam Charlotte. Her milky, smooth, muscled body sliced slowly through the water like scissors through silk. Like a chirping canary, her voice echoed across dark waters showing the way to her pod as belugas have done for millions of years.
In 1849, a crew building a railroad through Charlotte, Vermont, dug up strange and beautiful bones in a farmer’s field. A local naturalist asked Louis Agassiz to help identify them, and the famous scientist concluded that the bones belonged to a beluga whale. But how could a whale’s skeleton have been buried so far from the ocean? The answer—that Lake Champlain had once been an arm of the sea—encouraged radical new thinking about geological time scales and animal evolution.
Charlotte’s Bones is a haunting, science-based reconstruction of how Charlotte died 11,000 years ago in a tidal marsh, how the marsh became a field, how Charlotte found a second life as the Vermont state fossil, and what messages her bones whisper to us now about the fragility of life and our changing Earth.
About the Author
ERIN ROUNDS is a mom and a fourth-grade ELA and social studies teacher. A writer since grade school, she strives to teach her students to find and share their stories, because you never know what you might find when you dig deep and stop to observe what lies beneath. Charlotte’s Bones is her first published work.
ALISON CARVER studied illustration at the Rhode Island School of Design and biology at Oberlin College and Swansea University. She designs and illustrates publications, displays, and sets for ecological, theatrical, and historical organizations including the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands, the New Jersey Pinelands Preservation Alliance, Friends of Colonial Pemaquid, and the Opera Festival of New Jersey. Charlotte’s Bones is her first full-color illustrated book project.
Erin Rounds’ writing feels like magic. Use this book as a mentor text to teach showing not telling, imagery, and sentence fluency. It’s also a lovely example of how to make science come to life through a narrative story.
— Melissa Taylor
Extensive back matter provides details about the scientific impact
of the discovery, beluga whales and other Ice Age mammals of the Champlain
Valley, a glossary, and further resources. A well-researched historical
— Caroline Davis, Benicia PL
A substantial introduction to a significant North American fossil.
5 Stars Author Erin Rounds has written a lovely, lyrical story of Charlotte’s journey and discovery accompanied by beautiful illustrations in serene colors. In addition, there are six pages of in-depth back matter to give youngsters much more background and information about this extraordinary find. The back matter includes information on other Ice Age creatures that lived in the area, a good glossary, and a list of other resources for further study. This is a winner.
— Rosi Hollinbeck