The Bone Detectives
by Donna Jackson
"More than two hundred bones hold our bodies together, and each one tells a story"-right from the opening words, readers will find themselves glued to this fact-filled foray into the fine art of forensics. A real-life murder case solved through the painstaking work of "bone detectives" serves as a springboard for examining the techniques employed by forensic anthropologists in fighting crime and unraveling archeological puzzles. How a person's height, weight, sex, ethnic heritage and so on can be estimated from just a handful of bones makes for absorbing reading, and the plentiful accompanying photographs are equally intriguing. In addition to the murder case, first-time author Jackson highlights several historically significant finds-including the "Lucy" fossil, a bone fragment found at Little Bighorn, and perhaps this decade's most spectacular discovery, the 5300-year-old mummified "Iceman" found in the Alps (an artistic facial reconstruction is eerily lifelike). The handsome design and Jackson's equable presentation help tone down the grislier aspects of the subject matter. Ages 10-up.
Copyright 1996 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
School Library Journal
Gr 5-9-Eye-grabbing photos and engrossing text entice readers into this grisly domain as scientists use their bone-reading skills to unearth the clues that solve crimes. A bona fide hit.
Copyright 1998 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Booklist, Apr. 1996, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.:
Gr. 5-7. Show kids a full-color cover photo featuring shelf upon shelf crowded with skulls, and you're certain to get their attention. The rest of the book won't disappoint, either. Jackson follows forensic anthropologist Dr. Michael Charney and his colleagues as they solve an actual case by developing a physical profile from bones and teeth, reconstructing the victim's skull, and using clues from fibers and other material to make further identification. Kids will be fascinated as they see how a skull, bones, and bone fragments found in a wooded area reveal enough information to show that the victim was an Asian woman of a certain age and height. Once the skull was reconstructed, police sent out mug shots, which eventually led to an identification--and a murderer. The weakest part of the book is its layout. The story of Charney's case is interrupted by "Forensic File" pages that cover such topics as fingerprints and DNA. Naturally, this information should have been included somewhere, but, as placed, it interrupts the flow. The color photos, no matter what their size, are crisp, clear, and always intriguing. A glossary and diagram of the bones are appended. A useful, enthralling work. (Reviewed April 1, 1996)¾: Ilene Cooper.: