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9-year-old writes book about getting woolly mammoth named state fossil

Elementary School student Olivia McConnell made national headlines last year with her efforts to have the wooly mammoth named the state fossil. This year, McConnell takes those efforts and proves anything is possible - even for a little girl - by releasing a book inspired by her journey to pass the bill.
Elementary School student Olivia McConnell made national headlines last year with her efforts to have the wooly mammoth named the state fossil. This year, McConnell takes those efforts and proves anything is possible - even for a little girl - by releasing a book inspired by her journey to pass the bill.

Olivia McConnell made national headlines last year with her efforts to have a woolly mammoth named the state fossil. This year, the 9- year - old turned that successful journey into a children’s book that debuted at the S.C. State Museum on Saturday.

Complete with a glossary of archeological and law-making terms, the colorfully illustrated “Can You Dig It? Olivia’s Story” tells the tale of how she took steps to “change the world” -- something Olivia said she wants everyone to know that they, too, can do.

“I truly believe that anyone, big or small, can make a difference if they decide: ‘Today, we change the world, ’ ” reads a passage from her story of getting Bill H 4482 passed and naming the Columbian Mammoth the official state fossil.

The book was p ublished with Holladay House Publishing of Manning . Olivia dedicated her work to her great-granddaddy, Ralph Jackson , who instilled in Olivia her love of fossil hunting from an early age.

Holly Holladay, publisher, said Olivia is by far the youngest author she has worked with.

“It just an amazing project in general,” said Holladay. “When she came to me and said , ‘ T his is what I want to do,’ I just found it incredibly inspiring. That’s something that’s always been important to me – to inspire both young people and older people. And that’s what the book is about; being able to, at any age, make a difference.”

Parents and children lined up in the Gervais Room at the S.C. State Museum , where Olivia signed more than 100 copies of the book during its release party – after which she declared she was “pooped.”

Holladay said Olivia was involved in every step of the book-publishing process; from the editing to the illustrations and cover design. She even had the outfit in the cover illustration changed to pay homage to her other love – the March of Dimes, the nonprofit organization with a mission to improve the health of babies by funding cutting-edge research and helping mothers get the information and care they need.

Amanda McConnell, who shares credits on the book with her daughter, said the book idea stemmed from a radio interview during the national attention surrounding the passage of Bill H 4482.

“She said , ‘Of course I want to write a kids ’ story because I read children’s stories and that’s what’s given me a lot of my ideas,’” said Amanda McConnell.

Amanda McConnell said her daughter’s journey has also been an inspiration for herself , noting that nothing seems out of Olivia’s reach once she sets her mind to something.

“I’ve learned from her to take (my dreams) into my adult life,” said Amanda. “She tells me all the time , ‘Just ask, you don’t know if you don’t ask, so just ask.’”

Olivia’s book is available at the gift shop in the S.C. State Museum and online at holladayhousepublishing.com and will soon be available in other locations. A book signing for several of the books published by Holladay House Publishing -- including “Can You Dig It! Olivia’s Story” - - is also scheduled for June 13 at the Florence Barnes and Noble.

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