This highly entertaining and thought-provoking story traces the exploits of a 13,000-year-old beast and provides a rollicking introduction to how we, humans, journeyed to where we are on this globe today.
As an older person, whose reading in recent years has been either economics, social analysis or ‘whodunnit’ material, it took my brain a little while to settle into the idea of a tale being written in the first person by the spirit of a long-dead mammoth that has been freed from the mire! The resurrection of my own grey matter in adapting to our woolly narrator was greatly assisted by the light, humorous writing developing nuanced ideas that stir your mind onto an intriguing analysis of human impact.
Our hero, ‘Mammut’, provides fascinating tales of the conflict between early man and the mammoth-era wildlife that was around a handful of years before I was, as well as his spirit life after being reassembled and put on display in a museum “on the second floor of the American Philosophical Society, on Fifth and Chestnut”.
The development of these two eras provides many opportunities for insightful reflections on human behaviour in an amusing way that strangely evokes deeper thought. Chris, the writer, stimulates thought but does not create responses of anger, despair or criticism with his clever use of humour. Mammoth as heartening as it is engrossing.
As a retired teacher, I see this book as a fantastic tool for use in schools, as a story to open up an interesting conversation with young people about how humans continually influence the natural basis of life on this globe, and how to gain a balance to enable longevity.
Development of supplementary materials by Chris to assist teachers to understand his motivation in writing the book and his approach would help foster profitable conversation with many students, as the humour and humanity of Mammoth provide a great basis for learning!
Mammoth (UQP $32.99) is also available as an audiobook, narrated by Rupert Degas (Wavesound). The cover artwork of Mammut is by Webuyyourkids and the chapter heading illustrations are by Chris’ partner, Eirian Chapman, whose whimsical animal illustrations were featured in Gippslandia #12.