Progress report

Hi everyone,

On my May 11 post I said I was exploring possibilities for a new science book. Ten days later, exploration remains the key word. The subject for the project is a big one and happened long ago. It will be a challenge to keep the narrative from becoming too tedious.

I’ve been thinking about this book since January 2021. Last week I put the first words on paper. I worked on a draft of the first 900 words for four days. It was slow going and didn’t fall into place until the last day. It’s only the introduction, but it has to connect with young readers, make them want to read about what’s coming next. I decided it was good, but I needed the reaction of something seeing it for the first time.

I wasn’t ready yet to share it with NEAL LOPINOT, my archeologist friend/co-author of the book, but it’s never too early to share with SANDY. I offered the three pages to her with a hopeful look. She accepted them and sat down to read them at once. Pretty soon she looked up. I could see it coming.

“Boring,” said.

“Is not,” I whined with dignity.

“Is too,” she repeated and explained.

This is why I trust Sandy with my early drafts. She’s not only a straight shooter, she is right SO often. My first fear about this book is that it will bore readers. I prevailed on my good friend and master teacher, SU HUTCHENS. She, being the consummate teacher, both praised and offered a helpful thought or two. I began the revision.

Today I finished the rewrite, a rather complete one, I like it better. A lot better. If Sandy likes it better, a lot better, too, then off it goes to Neal. Once I know I’m on the right trajectory, I’m going to write this book!

Starting a new book

Hi everyone,

Next week I intend to start a nonfiction book that will take quite a bit of work over time. I don’t have a publisher yet, only one or two editors who have signaled an interest in seeing where I might go with the project. I’ll be working with a good friend and learned colleague with whom I worked on MAMMOTH BONES AND BROKEN STONES (2010), archaeologist NEAL LOPINOT. Of that one a reviewer said, “I applaud Harrison for having written a book that compares various theories of who may have been the first people in North America and making it clearly understandable for young readers. This is always tricky when explaining science to children that they must consider all possible explanations for a phenomenon even if the explanations fly in the face of commonly held (or taught) beliefs. On page 27, Harrison writes “This is how science works. No one has all the answers, but many people working on the same problem slowly add to what we know.” At the end of the book, he even finishes with a section titled “More Questions than Answers.”

MAMMOTH BONES AND BROKEN STONES was nominated by the State Archaeologist, NH Division of Historical Resources for the Society for American Archaeology’s 2010 Book of the Year for “a book that is written for the general public and presents the results of archaeological research to a broader audience”

It was also recommended by National Science Teachers Association, 2011

Neal and I are both busy so I don’t expect the work on this new book to move very quickly. At some point we’ll bear down on finding an editor but for now I need to get more deeply into the research, decide on an approach to the story, work up an outline, and write two or three chapters. I may have another book or two to announce soon but for now I need to start something new.

Lunch with colleagues the pandemic way

Hi everyone,

Tomorrow I’m having lunch with an archeologist friend of mine, carryout ribs, seated socially distant around a conference table in his department. Neal Lopinot, Director of the Center for Archeological Research at Southwest Missouri State University, was helpful in every way when I was researching and writing MAMMOTH BONES AND BROKEN STONES (Boyds Mills Press, 2010), the story of the search for the first humans to arrive on the North American continent. Via phone and e-mail he introduced me to several of the key players in North and South Americas whose research and discoveries have unearthed important clues about the long standing mystery. They provided me with pictures from their major sites, responded to my questions, one or two even read and critiqued my manuscript in progress. It was by far the most complex story I’ve ever written about and the best book of nonfiction I’ve ever done.

Reviews liked the book a lot.
“David Harrison has managed to effectively, succinctly, and understandably decipher the myriad
issues involved in understanding the peopling process for a young audience in a way no other author
has.” — J. M. Adovasio, Ph.D., D.Sc, Director, Mercyhurst Archaeological Institute

“It is a well written, thoughtful and data rich discussion of how archaeologists view the peopling of the New World.” — Richard Boisvert, State Archaeologist, NH Division of Historical Resources

“Mammoth Bones and Broken Stones: the Mystery of North America’s First People” is a fine middle
school ages 9-11 teaching book about the search for early North American human settlers and
ancestors and their origins…Children have a first rate opportunity to learn the basics of scientific scrutiny of a theory about human history and prehistory. — James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief Midwest Book Review

MAMMOTH BONES AND BROKEN STONES was recommended by National Science Teachers Association and nominated for the Society for American Archaeology’s 2010 Book of the Year for “a book that is written for the general public and presents the results of archaeological research to a broader audience.” I didn’t win but was extremely flattered by the book’s recognition.

Neal, Jack Ray (Assistant Director of the Center), and I get together now and then to catch up on one another’s news. I follow some of their actions through the Archeology Journal that I subscribe to, but getting it first hand is far more interesting.