BOOK TRAILER PREMIERE: ACCIDENTAL ARCHAEOLOGISTS by Sarah Albee
Hello Nerdy Friends!
It’s an honor to reveal the trailer for my latest book to you here at the Nerdy Book Club. In the best of times, educators who read for the sheer love of it and who work to get books into the hands of their students are my superheroes, and these are . . . not the best of times. So, because it simply cannot be said enough right now, from all of us who create books to all of you who read and share them with kids: thank you.
Before I show you the trailer, I’d love to tell you where this book came from. Because “Where do you get your ideas?” is the question kids ask me most often.
When I get this question during school visits, I tell kids that most of the time, an idea for a new book will occur to me when I’m in the midst of researching another, different book. What’s key, I tell them, is to train yourself to snag that idea and write it down, so you can return to it later.
That’s exactly how I came to the idea for this, my new book. Here’s how it happened. I was in the midst of researching and writing an eight-foot, fold-out timeline of the history of North America. Side-note: I loved writing that book. It was published by What on Earth Books, in partnership with Smithsonian, and it came out last September. Here it is:
So as I was deep into revising North America, my editor asked me to revisit my research into twentieth-century Mexico, because that section needed a few more details. I spent several days scanning newspapers from that time, searching for cool stories about Mexico. I found several. And here’s one of the entries that made it into the final book:
1978 • Surprise Discovery
A construction worker digging 15 feet beneath a street in Mexico City discovers a 500-year-old sculpture of an Aztec goddess. Archaeologists rush to the scene. It turns out he has found the ruins of an Aztec temple in Tenochtitlán.
There’s so much more to the story, but in my timeline book, which spanned 15,000 years of history, I had an extremely limited space in which to tell it. The guy’s shovel had clanged on a huge, circular stone with carvings on it, a stone that marked the base of the Templo Mayor, the main temple of the Mexica/Nahua peoples.
Also did you catch the date? This happened in 1978. The stone had been lying beneath that street in Mexico City for over four hundred years. It was thrilling to find this story, because readers of North America had already learned about Tenochtitlán back in the 16th-century panel, so the 1978 discovery brought everything full-circle.
And that’s when the idea hit me. Could I find more stories like this one, chance discoveries by ordinary people that changed what we thought we knew about human history? I already knew some of the famous ones—the Rosetta stone, Ötzi the Iceman, the Lascaux cave paintings—but would there be enough to fill an entire book? (Answer: More than enough. I found so many stories, I had to leave out the new species of tyrannosaur ploughed up by a farmer and the 65-million-year-old ammonite fossil found by a six-year-old at her older sister’s soccer practice. I had to limit the discoveries to human-made artifacts.)
And that, Dear Nerdy Reader, is how my newest book came into existence. It’s called Accidental Archaeologists: True Stories of Unexpected Discoveries, and it’s published by Scholastic. It will be out in November. Here’s the cover.
The book includes those famous discoveries, but it also includes less-famous, yet just-as-thrilling accidental discoveries that I can’t wait to introduce to kid readers.
I hope readers young and old will be inspired to recognize how much of the past is waiting to be discovered, to harness their ideas, and to make their own discoveries, both literary and archaeological.
And now, I’m excited to share the trailer with you.
Sarah Albee writes nonfiction books for kids of all ages. But what she really wants you to know is how deeply grateful she is to you educators, how fearful she is on your behalf in this time of horrific uncertainty, and how she prays that you, your family, and your fellow faculty, staff, and students will stay safe and healthy.