This blog is a continuation of a class assignment for the TWU course 5603, Literature for Children and Young Adults. Subsequent entries are for TWU course 5653, Multicultural Literature for Children and Young Adults. The new entries are for TWU course 5663, Poetry for Children and Young Adults.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Bodies from the Ice: melting Glaciers and the Recovery of the Past

Bodies from the Ice: Melting Glaciers and the Recovery of the Past
By James Deem

cover image retrieved from

Deems, James M. 2008. BODIES FROM THE ICE: MELTING GLACIERS AND THE RECOVERY OF THE PAST. Houghton Mifflin. New York. ISBN-13: 978-0618800452.

Plot Summary
In September 1991, Erika and Helmut Simon were climbing a mountain in the Otztal Alps, which spill into both Italy and Austria, when they stumbled upon the partially revealed body of a person, buried in the ice. What made this discovery special was realized when the body was dated to be approximately 5,300 years old, a dweller from the Copper Age. Types and characteristics of glaciers are explained in this mesmerizing book, as well as recounts of other bodies discovered as glaciers retreat. Sections of this book are devoted to legends about glaciers, the study of glaciers and glaciologists who study them, women involved in climbing glaciers, and the special circumstances surrounding climbing the mountains and glaciers around Mt. Everest. 

Critical Analysis
            What secrets do the glaciers of the world hold about the past? This question is skillfully answered, amid an intriguing selection of maps and photographs, in Bodies from the Ice: Melting Glaciers and the Recovery of the Past by James Deem. Deem, who became interested in glaciers while researching this book, has numerous other award-winning non-fiction books to his credit. He has made a name for himself as a meticulous researcher, with particular interest in bodies that have been preserved in unusual settings. He writes with great insight about the artifacts found with the bodies, and the research that accompanies these discoveries. The extensive resources, related materials, bibliography, and well-explained text make this book a delight for readers, regardless of prior knowledge or purpose for reading. Readers who are interested in mummies, glaciers, or the history preserved in unexpected places such as a glacier will find plenty to feed their hunger. Other readers who are looking for a basic resource to introduce them to this topic will be equally pleased with this selection. Special care has been taken to document all referenced discoveries, allowing the reader to delve into specific cases if desired.
The organization and format make it a very user-friendly book. Text is organized into chapters, with subsections and insets further explaining related topics or details. Dozens of color and black & white photographs give the reader visual reference for the points discussed in the text. Maps clue in the reader to the locale, permitting further investigation of glaciers and mountains in the area. Deem goes to great effort to diligently research his topics, and provide adequate resources for readers to understand and dig deeper themselves.  He adequately differentiates between theories once postulated and facts that have been proven as the mummies are studied. Dozens of photographs, with their detailed captions, clarify the text. The arrangement has enormous visual appeal, while feeding the reader manageable doses of information.  Readers of all ages will be drawn in to learn while enjoying this informative, appealing text.

Review Excerpts
Kirkus Reviews' Best Children's Books of 2008
            "The discoveries of bodies and artifacts at the edges of melting glaciers around the world triggered the imagination of award-winning author James M. Deem and led to Bodies from the Ice, his third book about real-life mummies (Bodies from the Ash, 2005, etc.).  "An intriguing read, complementing the author's highly commended Bodies from the Bog (1998) and Bodies from the Ash (2005), with a bonus environmental message."--Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"There are books about melting glaciers and books about frozen bodies, but this attractive offering combines the topics in a way that will intrigue readers . . . Heavily illustrated with historical memorabilia as well as photos of bodies, scenery, artifacts, and rather simplistic maps, this offers a lot to look at and learn about."--Booklist
"With its extensive bibliography, suggested Web sites, and a listing of glaciers to visit, Bodies is a fantastic resource. Deem superbly weaves diverse geographical settings, time periods, and climate issues into a readable work that reveals the increasing interdisciplinary dimensions of the sciences."  School Library Journal, starred review

Awards & Honors:
2009 Robert F. Sibert Informational Award Honor Book
awarded by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association

2011 Prairie Pasque Award Winner

Finalist for the 2009 AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books

Kirkus Reviews' Best Children's Books of 2008

Notable Book for Children 2009
chosen by the American Library Association

2009 Outstanding Science Trade Book for Students K-12
chosen by the National Science Teachers Association and the Children's Book Council 

2009 Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People
chosen by the National Council for the Social Studies and the Children's Book Council

2008 New York Public Library, 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing

Capitol Choices Noteworthy Book 2009 (10-14)

CCBC Choices 2009

Takoma Park Maryland Library, Best Kids Books of 2008

Nominated for:
the 2010-2011 Young Hoosier Book Award (middle grades)
the 2011 Garden State Teen Book Award (Nonfiction Grades 6-12)

*  Social Studies: Map the locations of glaciers around the world. Identify the mountain range, country, and continent where each is located. Graph the number of glaciers per continent. Plot the latitude and longitude of each glacier. Determine the altitude of each glacier. Compile tables displaying latitude, longitude, and altitude. Make inferences about the relationship between this information and the size of the glacier.
*  Science: Dig deeper to find what is causing the retreat of glaciers worldwide. Chapter 7 of Bodies from the Ice discusses possible effects of the total melting of glaciers. Identify locations that would be most impacted by the loss of fresh water from glacial melt.
*  Study global warming. Bodies from the Ice does an excellent job of not taking sides in the disagreement about the role of global warming on retreating glaciers. Some scientists believe glacial melt is the result of global warming, while others disagree, saying it is part of Earth’s natural cycle. Assign partners or small groups to research both sides of this argument. Stage a debate or form a classroom display showing the opposing viewpoints.
*  Language Arts: After further researching any of the bodies recovered from melting glaciers described in this book, write a journal entry that this person might have written in the days just prior to the events that lead to being preserved in ice.

*  Other books by James Deem:
Auschwitz: Voices from the Death Camp
Kristallnacht: The Nazi Terror that Began the Holocaust
Primary Source Accounts of the Revolutionary War
Primary Source Accounts of the Mexican-American War
Bodies from the Ash: Life and Death in Ancient Pompeii
The Vikings
El Salvador
Millard Fillmore
Zachary Taylor
Bodies from the Bog
3 NBs of Julian Drew
The Very Real Ghost Book of Christina Rose
How to Make a Mummy Talk
How to Read Your Mother's Mind
Study Skills in Practice
How to Travel Through Time
Ghost Hunters
How to Hunt Buried Treasure
How to Catch a Flying Saucer
How to Find a Ghost
Frogburger at Large
Frog Eyes Loves Pig

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