The story of Charlotte, Vermont’s official state marine fossil.
Rounds labors to draw a poetic message from the 11,500-year-old bones of a beluga that were unearthed in 1849 some 150 miles from the sea (“ ‘I was alive like you,’ they say. / ‘Time goes by fast,’ they say. / ‘The Earth is both strong and fragile’ ”) That’s a stretch, but her reconstruction of the whale’s likely history and her much-lengthier appended notes—on belugas, on who discovered the fossil, on what its discovery implied about the area’s prehistory, on glaciation in the Champlain Valley, and on Ice Age mammals of the region both extant and extinct—offer more than enough for readers to absorb and ponder. Carver supplies full-bleed landscapes stocked with woolly mammoths and musk oxen; views of “Charlotte” swimming with her pod, trapped in a tide pool, and then decomposing in stages; 19th-century workers (their faces indistinct but some, at least, possibly people of color) excavating a rail bed; a white naturalist (Zadock Thompson, unnamed in the main narrative) laying the bones out on a floor for study; and finally the assembled fossil in its modern exhibit case.
Not exactly seamless but all in all a substantial introduction to a significant North American fossil. (map, glossary, resource list) (Informational picture book. 7-9)