Today, we're honored to host Jordan Jacobs on the blog, as a part of the official Sourcebooks tour for Samantha Sutton and the Winter of the Warrior Queen. He's here to tell us where his love of archeology came from!
But first, our review of the book!
Paperback, 368 pages
Expected publication: January 7th 2014 by "Sourcebooks Jabberwocky"
Format read: E-ARC via publisher
Synopsis via Goodreads:
Twelve-year-old Samantha Sutton isn't sure she wants to go to England with her Uncle Jay, a brilliant, risk-taking archeologist. But the trip seems safe enough--a routine excavation in Cambridge--and Samantha has always had a love for the past.
At first the project seems unremarkable--just a survey to clear the way for a massive theme park. But everything changes when Sam uncovers something extraordinary. Are the local legends true? Is this the site of the ancient fortress belonging to Queen Boudica, the warrior queen? What treasures might be found?
When others begin to learn of her findings, Samantha senses she is in danger. Can any of her friends be trusted? Samantha will need to solve the mystery of the site in order to protect herself and let the world know of her remarkable discovery.
So when I was given the chance to read Winter of the Warrior Queen and host author Jordan Jacobs for a guest post, I jumped on it. I knew that Jacobs was a real-life archeologist, and I wanted to see how his background would work in MG fiction. The answer? Perfectly.
In Winter of the Warrior Queen, Jacobs (re)introduces readers to twelve-year-old Samantha Sutton and her brother Evan, as they join their Uncle Jay for another excavation. This time, they're headed to Cambridge, England, where Uncle Jay has gotten back together with several classmates from university to clear a local site.
From the very first page of the prologue, Jacobs absolutely sucked me into the story. He makes it clear early on that the Cambridge dig at Wardy Hill is anything but an ordinary clearing. There are some real stakes for Samantha and her family on the line, even if the Suttons initially aren't aware of it.
But even as the reality of the situation begins to unfold for Samantha, Jacobs does a fantastic job of balancing increasingly ominous signs that not everything is right with the excavation, with the novelty that Samantha and Evan experience at being in a unique college town, with college-aged friends.
We see Samantha get the sense of what it would be like to both go to college and to do archeology for a living, and I think readers will appreciate Samantha's approach to these two new roles. She face both challenges fearlessly, something that will likely inspire and motivate readers who are facing (or thinking about) similar challenges.
Readers will undoubtedly also appreciate Jacobs' ability to integrate the behind-the-scenes process that goes into archeology into the story. He does a brilliant job of explaining thing site surveying, cataloguing and even some professional issues for archeologists - e.g. amateur archeologists digging sites and keeping artifacts for themselves, all in a way that was informative and kept the plot moving forward.
Outside of the plotting and the archeology, Jacobs is just a fantastic writer, full stop. He creates an awesome set of secondary characters, which not only keep the story moving, but also shows readers the type of camaraderie that you probably do develop both in school and when you're working on a site dig like this.
He also seriously kept me guessing with the villain - I was never quite sure who to trust as the story progressed, which made the story even better!
I also highly recommend this book for educators and parents who are looking for a book with a heroine who proves that you don't need super powers or super strength in order to make a difference in the world. All you need is intelligence, heart and a genuine passion for something that you love, all of which Samantha Sutton has in spades.
I know that I'll be tracking down Samantha Sutton and the Labyrinth of Lies as soon as I can, and I totally can't wait for the next book in the series. Read this - you'll thank me later!
Disclaimer: I received an e-arc of this book from Sourcebooks, in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!
Guest post by Jordan Jacobs:
Q: Could you talk a little about where your love of archeology came from, and how it developed?
Whatever its origin, though, the interest had taken hold of me for good by the time I hit eighth grade.
Encouraged--and joined!--by my parents, I signed up for a one-day excavation in the Sierra Nevada, helping a local amateur archaeological society excavate a small site in advance of a campground’s expansion. For a thirteen-year-old, the artifacts we excavated from the soft, red soil were somewhat unspectacular: chips of obsidian, mostly, from the making of stone tools. But screening, collecting, and bagging the objects for analysis at a nearby university carried another sort of thrill. People--real people--had created these artifacts, and had known this same, shaded spot in the mountains.
It felt a little like time travel. And I wanted to experience it again and again.
My next opportunity came three years later, when I participated in a high school field school program at Colorado’s Crow Canyon Archaeological Center. Surrounded by other kids who shared my passion, and under the supervision of the program’s professional archaeologists, I spent the summer excavating an Ancestral Puebloan settlement, high on a cliff side ledge.
We spent our days chipping away at the tough, caliche soil, piecing together the lives of people who knew this same canyon, almost a thousand years before. We encountered manos and metates, potsherds and animal bones, and a round, ceremonial kiva structure, complete with ancient timbers.
As we worked, and during evening classes, we discussed the ethical components of the discipline, not just the scientific: the rights of descendant communities, for example, and the need for archaeologists to publish their findings. Above all, were taught the great responsibility inherent to excavation. Archaeologists destroy what they study, and have just one chance to record the information they uncover before it’s lost forever--a lesson Samantha Sutton’s uncle likes to emphasize, almost word for word.
Two decades after my first excavation, the thrill is still the same: the same excitement, the same sense of duty, the same ever-humbling awe.
There are many options available to kids who are interested in archaeology today.
Libraries are a good place to start. I’d encourage anyone with an interest in archaeology to pick up a introductory college textbook, and see what you think. Many museums also offer excellent programming around archaeological excavations, discoveries, and techniques. (Keep an eye out especially around International Archaeology Day, which is held each year in late October).
For kids in the United States who wish to take part in an excavation, Crow Canyon (http://www.crowcanyon.org) is thriving, and offers programs for middle school students, high school students, educators, and families. Archaeology Summer Camp in Alexandria, Virginia (http://www.alexandriava.gov/Archaeology) also gets high marks from the young readers and parents I have talked to. Scouting is also a way to give archaeology a try.
While I hear that an effort to create a new, national Girl Scouts Archaeology badge for the Girl Scouts of America may be underway, “Council’s Own” archaeology badges are already offered in several regions. The Boy Scouts of America offer an Archaeology badge, according to their website. Still other opportunities may be available through regional amateur archaeological associations.
Be warned, however: not all such groups are exactly what they seem. Some general words of advice: reputable programs are very unlikely to involve metal detectors, and will not allow participants keep what they find.
About the author:
His novels Samantha Sutton and the Labyrinth of Lies and Samantha Sutton and the Winter of the Warrior Queen were inspired by his work at Chavín de Huántar, Peru and in England. He now works as the Head of Cultural Policy at the Phoebe Hearst Museum of Anthropology at UC Berkeley.