Faces from the Past: Forgotten People of North America by James M. Deen

When I saw Faces from the Past on the Netgalley catelogy, I was excited, since my recent read about forensic anthropology was such a delightful read for me. My son and I have been studying early American history as well, so it fits in well with my current interests. Once again, I have to say how much I love homeschooling: as I teach my son kindergarten-level history, I am enjoying delving much deeper in to the history of my country.

Faces from the Past: Forgotten People of North America by James M. Deen (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, November 2012) is another middle grade or young adult nonfiction look at American history by forensic analyzation of the bones that remain behind after hundreds of years. Mr Deen goes much farther back than Sally Walker did: he begins with remains found that are probably 15,000 years old, some of the oldest American bones found. I loved how his book provided examples of remains from all over the country, from a shipwrecked French sailor from La Salle’s expedition found off the coast of what is now Texas (1600s) to the “ordinary” women buried in Albany, New York.

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Written in Bone by Sally M. Walker

Written in Bone: Buried Lives of Jamestown and Colonial Maryland by Sally M. Walker (Carolrhoda, 2009) is about what we can learn about a few early American settlers from their bones and burial. It is both a lesson in very early American history as well as a scientific exploration of forensic anthropology. Since I’m studying Jamestown this week with my son and since I’m a big fan of the television show Bones for it’s insight into forensic anthropology, I really enjoyed Written in Bone. Walker approaches her subject with obvious passion, clear language, and well done scientific explanations, all for a young adult audience. She teaches without belittling her audience, a difficult task to do when she’s writing for youth as young as 12 and as old as any adult.Continue Reading