While Amiee White Beazley, a mother of two and fellow writer who lives about 5 minutes from me in Colorado, drove home from “Mammoth and Mastadon Madness” day in Snowmass Village last fall, she and her kindergarten-age son started crafting a story about the interesting Ice Age animals they’d just learned about at the event. Inspired by the fossils that Denver Museum of Nature & Science experts had uncovered at a Snowmass Village construction site (after a bulldozer operator happened upon the bones of an extinct mammoth in October), Amiee later honed her story into an entertaining, uplifting children’s picture book, Snowmastodon! Snow Day Adventure.
It’s a sweet tale about two friends — Mastodon and Sloth — who seek adventure one morning after waking to freshly fallen snow. (What kid in cold-weather areas of the U.S. can’t relate to the phrase, “School’s closed – it’s a snow day!”) Their day becomes even more special when they encounter other buddies as they attempt to summit a mountain in deep snow: Beaver, Salamander, Bison and Mammoth — all animals whose remains were indeed found at the Snowmass Village Ice Age dig site. I like that at the end of the picture book — lovingly illustrated by talented Paul Antonson — factual information about the different Ice Age animals is relayed. This book is not only entertaining, but educational!
In fact, if you’re planning a visit to Snowmass Village this summer, you and your kids can learn all about the fascinating fossils DMNS researchers found — more than 4,800 specimens of 26 animals — during the dig that ended just a week ago (after all, construction had to continue at the Ziegler Reservoir in Snowmass Village). On the Snowmass Village Mall, near Gene Taylor’s sports shop, is the Snowmass Discovery Center with displays, educational panels, a half-size wooden mammoth, videos and interactive programming that detail more information about the 26 different vertebrae animals uncovered at the site. The center is open daily through September 18, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and admission is free. (Thursday afternoons through August 18, it’s open until 6 p.m.)
In addition prehistoric bones, Snowmass offers families a bunch of fun activities, including hiking and mountain biking right on the ski hill, as well as scenic gondola rides, golf, jeep tours and free Kids Krafts at the Treehouse. Thursday nights bring the awesome free concerts on Fanny Hill; special events happen throughout the summer, like the upcoming Snowmass Culinary & Arts Festival (July 22/23) or the Snowmass Balloon Festival (September 16-18). My favorite place to stay? The swanky Viceroy Snowmass.
Snowmastodon! is published by People’s Press in Woody Creek, Colorado (also in my backyard). Purchase it for $18.95 on the People’s Press website, where you can have your book signed by the author. Also keep an eye on Amazon.com, which should be selling the book soon.