Season of the Mammoth (BigShorts) by Antony Wootten

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Season of the Mammoth (BigShorts) by Antony Wootten

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: The blurb says Season of the Mammoth is a Stone Age story of family, friendship, intolerance and injustice and this describes it perfectly. Short, punchy and dramatic - a great story for newly confident readers.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 103 Date: May 2016
Publisher: Stairwell Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1939269676

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Trouble is brewing in the tribe. The people are divided. Some detest the wanderers who travel to their valley every year to hunt mammoths, but others see that the wanderers are dying out and need help. Geb and Tanesh, the son and daughter of the tribal leader, along with their reclusive friend, Scrim, are caught in the middle as the tribe splits apart and turns on itself. Can they – should they – help defend the wanderers?

Tannash and her brother Geb are waiting in great excitement for the hunting party led by their uncle to return. They're hoping for a feast of mammoth meat. Geb longs for the day he can join his uncle Gagba and the other warriors on a hunting party and take part in their deeds of derring-do. But their father, the leader of the village, thinks that they also need an education; that knowledge is power. And that is why they are up in the hills away from the village, with their aunt, the wise woman Rass, and her foster son Scrim, who is not like the other villagers. 

When the hunting party returns, Tannash and Geb run down the hill into trouble. Uncle Gagba is furious. His men have been attacked by the nomads who arrive in the valley periodically, following the mammoth, and he wants to lead a war band to kill them all. Tannash's father urges caution but his leadership is under challenge by Gagba's insistence on war. Geb, blinded by Gagba's glory hunting rhetoric, betrays his father and joins his uncle but Tannash is more circumspect. 

Who are the wanderers? Why are they desperate? Can a peace be brokered? What's to become of Scrim? Read the book to find out!

Season of the Mammoth packs a lot of story and action into its one hundred pages. In case you hadn't guessed, this Stone Age tale speaks of an encounter between homo sapiens and Neanderthals - encounters we now know took place, even if only by the traces of Neanderthal DNA many of us have. It's a great, pacy story, full of action and excitement, and plenty of heroism, but it also leads into wider themes that can be discussed in the context of modern life. There's the obvious parallel of prejudice and racism - what's wrong with the wanderers? Is different the same thing as bad? And immigration - should land and homes be shared with incomers? And climate change too - what happens when the ecology is shifting and resources are getting scarcer? How do we share equitably?

Season of the Mammoth is a great book for confident readers coming into KS2. The story itself is engaging, entertaining and exciting and offers a vicarious peek into a long ago world. But it also provides a platform for constructive discussion about the big topics of today. One for the classroom or for parents and child to share. Recommended.

If you enjoy tales from pre-history, Song Hunter by Sally Prue also looks at early encounters between Neanderthals and homo sapiens that we now know took place. For older readers, Promise of the Wolves by Dorothy Hearst goes back 14,000 years to look at the domestication of wolves and the story of how dogs became man's best friend. You might also appreciate A Whisper of Wolves by Kris Humphrey, but for a short read, Season of the Mammoth is better.

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Buy Season of the Mammoth (BigShorts) by Antony Wootten at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Season of the Mammoth (BigShorts) by Antony Wootten at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Season of the Mammoth (BigShorts) by Antony Wootten at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Season of the Mammoth (BigShorts) by Antony Wootten at


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