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

Written in Bone: Buried Lives of Jamestown and Colonial Maryland

Written in Bone
Buried Lives of Jamestown and Colonial Maryland
By Sally M. Walker

Cover image retrieved from

Walker, Sally M. 2009. WRITTEN IN BONE: BURIED LIVES OF JAMESTOWN AND COLONIAL MARYLAND. Carolrboda Books. Minneapolis. ISBN 978-0-8225-7135-3.

Plot Summary
Forensic Anthropology, a branch of science that deals with excavating and studying the remains of people who lived many years ago, is detailed in this amazing chronicle of the history of Jamestown and Colonial Maryland settlements. Researchers and archaeologists carefully documented and studied the remains of many former residents, piecing together the story of the past through findings of the present.

Critical Analysis
Stunning visuals give life and depth to this high-quality account of the excavation of numerous graves of the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries. Author Walker draws on her personal interest in archaeology, rooted in her college years. The author of over fifty books, Walker is known for her research and storytelling techniques. Based on her reputation, Walker was asked by Smithsonian Institution scientist Dr. Douglas Owsley to write a book stemming from his works in forensic archaeology. The resulting book is a treasure to explore and learn from. Walker’s curiosity spills out onto the pages, followed by answers and then more questions that are raised as a result. The reader is easily caught up in her own interest, style, and selection of material to include.
The text on the pages is set on a background watermark image of mounds of dirt, setting the tone for this book of discoveries made by digging in the dirt in natural locales. Dozens of photographs, diagrams, maps, and primary document excerpts grace the pages, with just the right amount of text added for a manageable balance.  The organization of text into chapters with appropriately descriptive titles, along with the superb index, allow the reader to easily locate specific information. Source notes, a timeline, a selected bibliography, and suggestions for further reading and websites complete the resources available. Easy to understand vocabulary, with excellent use of context clues, definitions, and descriptions, permit the reader to feel in control of the reading material. This fascinating book is the total package: inviting, informative, and reliable.

Review Excerpts
From School Library Journal
Starred Review. Grade 6–9—Walker takes readers on an archaeological investigation of human and material remains from 17th- and 18th-century Jamestown and colonial Maryland, while addressing relevant topics in forensic anthropology, history, and archaeology. Written in Bone casts a magnifying glass on the hardships and realities of colonial life so often romanticized in American lore.

From Booklist
*Starred Review* This unusual volume, suggested to Walker by a scientist at the Smithsonian Institution, dips into American history to introduce the work of forensic anthropologists. Back matter includes source notes, a source bibliography, a time line, and lists of recommended books and Internet sites. The reading level is relatively high and the quantity of detailed information is not for everyone, but those intrigued by forensics and history will find this absolutely fascinating.


*     Pair this book with Blood on the River, a historical fiction novel by Elisa Carbone (Viking, New York. 2006. ISBN 0-670-06060-7) . Compare and contrast the story of the founding of Jamestown, particularly the terrible starvation the settlers faced, fictionalized in Blood on the River, with the facts revealed in Written in Bone. What theories exist that are portrayed in either book?
*     Compare the archaeological study of Jamestown with that of the pyramids of Egypt. What similarities and differences do you find?
*     Pair this book with Bodies from the Ice by James Deem (Houghton Mifflin, New York. ISBN-13: 978-0618800452.) What can be learned from the discovery and recovery of bodies from the past? Which book details circumstances that are more revealing of the past?
*     What are other ways historians find out about the past? Have a classroom discussion, brainstorming methods used to uncover the events and people of the past.

*     Other books by Sally M. Walker:

Druscilla’s Halloween
The Vowel Family
The 18 Penny Goose
Bessie Coleman
Mary Anning Fossil Hunter
Jackie Robinson
The Search for Antarctic Dinosaurs
Mystery Fish: Secrets of the Coelacanth
Super Croc Found
Shipwreck Search
Early Bird Earth Science
Early Bird Energy
Early Bird Nature
Early Bird Physics
Frozen Secrets: Antarctica Revealed
Secrets of a Civil War Submarine: Solving the Mysteries of the H.L. Hunley
Fossil Fish Found Alive: Discovering the Coelacanth
Life in an Estuary
Nature Watch Rays
Nature Watch Crocodiles
Nature Watch Sea Horses
Nature Watch Manatees
Nature Watch Dolphins
Nature Watch Hippos
Nature Watch Rhinos
Nature Watch Jaguars 

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