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Their Skeletons Speak
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About the Author

Sally M. Walker has been a children's book writer for over 20 years. Most of her books are nonfiction and present various science topics to young readers. Fossil Fish Found Alive is the story of the hunt for the elusive fish called the coelacanth. Sally also enjoys combining science investigation with historical topics. Her book Secrets of a Civil War Submarine, which won the 2006 Robert F. Sibert Medal, tells about the history, loss, and re-discovery of the first submarine to sink an enemy ship in battle. Written in Bone: Buried Lives of Jamestown and Colonial Maryland takes readers on archaeological expeditions, where the forensic analysis of colonial settlers' bones helps us to understand their lives. Sally especially enjoys writing narrative nonfiction that captures the reader's attention with a true story. She is also the author of 2019 Orbis Pictus Honor Book Champion: The Comeback Tale of the American Chestnut.

Reviews

Gr 8 Up-This detailed study of the discovery and forensic evaluation of the skeleton dubbed "Kennewick Man" puts forensic TV shows to shame. From his accidental discovery in 1996 through multiple examinations by scientists with ever-improving forensic tools and years of unexpected storage due to NAGPRA (Native American Graves Protection and Reparation), an actual human being emerges from a time long gone, speaking to us through his bones. Entering briefly into this long-term investigation are the far more shadowy figures of other Paleoamericans-Spirit Cave Man, Arch Lake Woman, and the Horn Shelter People. Scattered throughout the lucid, readable text are tightly focused informational bits on such topics as CT scans, radiocarbon dating, and NAGPRA practices. Sharp color photos, some nice artwork, and good maps provide clear visuals of the bones themselves, and the features that helped define the man and his life. A final facial reconstruction leaves readers face-to-face with a real person-someone readers would recognize if they met him on the street (we know how tall he was, how much he weighed, that one arm was stronger than the other, etc.). Walker reminds readers that it was not their relics, but living, breathing Paleoamericans who first arrived, settled, lived, and died in the long-gone American past. For those not quite ready for so much detail, try Katherine Kirkpatrick's equally distinguished Mysterious Bones: The Story of the Kennewick Man (Holiday House, 2011). Lucid writing, fine scientific explanations, and attractive bookmaking make this a winner.-Patricia Manning, formerly at Eastchester Public Library, NY (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

"This detailed study of the discovery and forensic evaluation of the skeleton dubbed 'Kennewick Man' puts forensic TV shows to shame. From his accidental discovery in 1996 through multiple examinations by scientists with ever-improving forensic tools and years of unexpected storage due to NAGPRA (Native American Graves Protection and Reparation), an actual human being emerges from a time long gone, speaking to us through his bones. Entering briefly into this long-term investigation are the far more shadowy figures of other Paleoamericans--Spirit Cave Man, Arch Lake Woman, and the Horn Shelter People. Scattered throughout the lucid, readable text are tightly focused informational bits on such topics as CT scans, radiocarbon dating, and NAGPRA practices. Sharp color photos, some nice artwork, and good maps provide clear visuals of the bones themselves, and the features that helped define the man and his life. A final facial reconstruction leaves readers face-to-face with a real person--someone readers would recognize if they met him on the street (we know how tall he was, how much he weighed, that one arm was stronger than the other, etc.). Walker reminds readers that it was not their relics, but living, breathing Paleoamericans who first arrived, settled, lived, and died in the long-gone American past. For those not quite ready for so much detail, try Katherine Kirkpatrick's equally distinguished Mysterious Bones: The Story of the Kennewick Man (Holiday House, 2011). Lucid writing, fine scientific explanations, and attractive bookmaking make this a winner." --starred, School Library Journal

--Journal

"This book is the account of the Kennewick Man from the discovery of his skeleton in 1996 through today. The book weaves together this story with those of several other Paleolithic skeletons. Material is presented in a well-written manner; the explanations of the scientific methods are clear without being overly simplified. The layout and numerous accompanying photographs and illustrations enhance and expand the text. The subject of repatriation of remains to Native American groups is handled professionally and respectfully. This title is hard to put down once you start it. This would be an excellent addition to every school library." --starred, Library Media Connection

--Journal

Chance discovery of human bones on the banks of the Columbia River prompted a police investigation and led to the discovery that the bones were more than 9,000 years old! "Even though this narrative begins with the discovery of bones, it is ultimately the tale of a human life, of a strong man who overcame great physical pain, of someone who was, above all, a survivor. It might also be part of a tale of how humans came to North America." The story of what scientists learned from studying the bones is gripping.

--Journal

"An attractive volume digs deeply into stories of ancient American skeletons.

Walker, a Sibert Award winner, and Owsley, division head of physical anthropology at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, join forces to bring alive the history of Paleoamericans, a term used in the book to mean human remains older than 8,000 years. The narrative focuses on the Kennewick man, a skeleton found in Kennewick, Wash., in 1996, but it also looks at Paleoamerican remains from Nevada, New Mexico, Texas and California. It describes the exhaustive detail in which scientists study the Paleoamerican skeletons, artifacts found with them and excavation sites. Smooth writing, although not as compelling as Walker's Written in Bone (2009), takes readers through two intensive exams of the Kennewick skeleton done five years apart (Owsley was a member of the second examination team). Juxtaposing the two exams illustrates how new technologies and fresh eyes can change scientists' understanding of such remains, a major theme throughout the book. Another recurring topic concerns how the Paleoamerican findings shed light on the origins and routes of humans who first settled North America, important questions still unresolved. Color photographs and diagrams with helpful captions extend the text; occasional sidebars expand on topics like bone fractures and radiocarbon dating. The final chapter highlights a fascinating reconstruction of the Kennewick man's face and head.

A special treat for archaeology buffs." --Kirkus Reviews

--Journal

"Walker and Owsley present a superbly written and documented account of Kennewick Man, a Paleoamerican whose nearly ten-thousand-year-old remains were found on the banks of the Columbia River in Washington State. The story begins with the thrill and pacing of a crime drama, as the 1996 discovery of a skull in the water turns from a modern forensic mystery into a critical anthropological find. There's even a complicated legal element, as kinship with Kennewick Man was claimed by several Native American tribes calling for adherence to a 1990 law that mandates respectful treatment of ancestral remains. A lawsuit brought by scientists was decided in their favor through reliance on emerging scientific theories about the arrival of the first humans in the Americas approximately fourteen thousand years ago (who may or may not be directly related to the specific Native groups in the lawsuit). Walker and Owsley (one of the anthropologists involved in both the research and the legal case) build the narrative clue by clue, first in determination of the find's importance, then through a richly detailed portrait of the practice of anthropology. Accompanied by excellent color photographs of the actual evidence and technologies used to generate knowledge about Kennewick Man, the authors show just how much can be learned from a collection of bones and the important ways that each find contributes to our understandings of prehistory." --The Horn Book Magazine

--Journal

"'Thirty-five years ago, ' Walker and Owsley explain, 'the peopling of the Americas, according to the Clovis-first theory, was a done deal. Today we are looking at multiple routes and peoples.' Readers not up to speed on the Clovis-first theory will get a brief cram course here; however, students who are already familiar with older theories involving an Asia-to-America land bridge crossing will better appreciate Walker and Owsley's dense, thoughtful discussion on how rapid changes in archaeological techniques and evidence reinterpretation have altered this model in recent years, and the subsequent cultural and political controversies among scientists, native claimants to ancient human remains, governments agencies, and the courts. Kennewick Man, a skeleton retrieved from the Columbia River in 1996, is the focal point of this study, an object lesson in how scientists can deduce amazing amounts of information from what may seem to the untutored viewer to be unimpressive dings, cracks, and concretions in bone or the simplest position of a limb in its final resting place. To demonstrate how far the field of paleoamerican studies has come in the past century, Walker and Owsley backtrack to discuss several other notable human remains that have altered the timetable of human settlement and place of origin. There's a lot of technical information here, on topics such as isotope-based dating techniques, tooth-shape comparison, advanced CT scans, sediment accretions, bone stress, wound recovery, and the like, but for serious readers who delight in forensic investigation or perhaps consider a future in the field, this material will push their understanding further than most titles on this subject for youth readership. Source notes, bibliographies, and an index are included." --The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

--Journal

"The discovery came in 1996 when a passerby reached into the Columbia River to pull out a rock. As Walker colorfully puts it, he 'literally found himself face-to-face with Kennewick Man.' The nearly complete 9,400-year-old skeleton has been the focus of both study and controversies ever since. Here Walker and forensic anthropologist Owsley explain the latter (having to do with Native American cultural claims and the skull's distinctly non-Native American features) but devote closer attention to the physical clues presented by the bones' cracks and accretions, patterns of wear on teeth, and other 'tantalizing but scattered' forensic evidence that hints at who Paleoamericans were and how they lived. Along with introducing other North American finds of similar age, such as the Spirit Cave Mummy, the authors show how interpretations of evidence can change or be refined over time and also cover current theories about the migratory origins of the earliest Americans. Enhanced by maps and diagrams as well as photos of discovery sites, remains, and scientists at work, this account imparts a clear sense of how hard and subtle that work is--and how exciting, too." --Booklist

--Journal

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