Great Illustrated Books

Their Skeletons Speak: Kennewick Man and the Paleoamerican World

Sally M. Walker and Douglas W. Owsley

Carolhoda Books
Pages : 136
Suggested Ages: 11 & Up
ISBN: 9780761374572

How could a boat race, a rock and a practical joke rewrite the story of human life in North America? Sally Walker and Douglas Owsley take readers on a fascinating CSI-style journey through an engaging narrative, leaving the curious craving more. 

Never did two young men vying for the best view of a boat race imagine that their discovery in the sand would change scientists’ view of Paleoamericans forever.  But that is exactly what happened when friends, twenty-year old Will Thomas and nineteen year-old Dave Deacy, stumble on a very special “rock” along the shore of the Columbia River in Washington on July 28, 1996. The rock turns out to be a skull approximately 9,500 years old. 

Drawing readers into the story of the Kennewick Man, Walker and Owsley reconstruct the discovery and inquiry surrounding this amazing encounter. The authors present an appealing account of scientific research, breakthroughs, perplexing questions, and analysis, as well as the cultural sensitivities and politics surrounding an archeological find of this kind. Comparing the commonalities and mysteries of the Kennewick Man’s discovery with three other Paleoamericans (Spirit Cave Man, Arch Lake Woman, and Horn Shelter Man), readers learn what human life could have been like for these individuals tens of thousands of years ago. 

Photographs, sketches, maps, an extensive biography, suggested websites and titles for further reading all contribute to the wealth of information provided by the authors making this a fascinating discovery for any budding scientist.

Reviewed by : MJI


If you love this book, then try:

Larson, Peter. Bones Rock!: Everything You Need to Know to Be a Paleontologist. Invisible Cities Press Llc, 2004

Rusch, Elizabeth. Eruption!: Volcanoes and the Science of Saving Lives. HMH Books for Young Readers, 2013.

Chaikin, Andrew. Mission Control, This is Apollo: The Story of the First Voyages to the Moon. Viking Juvenile, 2009.

Extend student learning and forensic discovery exploring Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History’s online exhibit, What Does it Mean to be Human?

Explore your prehistoric self with the Smithsonian’s MEanderthal App. It is as simple as taking a photo, selecting a species, and watching the photo regress into the past.

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Critics have said

This detailed study of the discovery and forensic evaluation of the skeleton dubbed "Kennewick Man" puts forensic TV shows to shame.
School Library Journal
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.