Reviews for Mammoth Bones and Broken Stones : The Mystery of North America's First People


Booklist Reviews 2010 December #2
Largely speculative and illustrated with a mix of shadowy reconstructions of prehistoric scenes and photos of artifacts and modern archaeological sites, this quick once-over will leave readers more tantalized than informed. Along with explaining how advancing and retreating ice created land bridges and new coastlines, Harrison describes how findings at several digs in North and South America have led scientists to posit both a widespread culture of "Clovis" people and perhaps even more ancient predecessors. He emphasizes the dangers of drawing conclusions from scanty evidence (in one experiment, elephants were led over gravel-filled pits and left broken stones that could easily be mistaken for human artifacts) and so makes only very broad generalizations about early human cultures. He doesn't always connect the dots either--mentioning physical parallels, for instance, between Clovis-style stone weapons and European Solutrean ones, but without any pictures of the latter--and most of the references listed at the end are adult resources. Consider this as a more detailed supplement to the relevant chapters in Russell Freedman's Who Was First? Discovering the Americas (2007). Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2011 Spring
Harrison guides readers through the chronology of scientific explanations for the origins and migration of humans into North America. For each archaeological find he presents the evidence it uncovered; scientists who contributed to our knowledge of early humans are also introduced. Photographs and diagrams as well as artistic renderings of what prehistoric life may have been like illustrate the occasionally choppy text. Bib., glos., ind. Copyright 2011 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2010 September #1
How and when the Western Hemisphere, particularly North and South America, came to be populated continues to be both mysterious and controversial for scientists. Archaeologists plug away with the tools at their disposal but have "more questions than answers." Harrison does a good job setting the issue in context. He describes the earliest efforts to identify the original inhabitants of the continents, exploring the Clovis culture, believed by many to be the first humans to reach North America. After clearly explaining how scholars decided that they were first, he then lists the arguments against this hypothesis. In the course of looking at both sides, he introduces young readers to "the strict rules of archaeology." The author demonstrates the precise work of those attempting to understand the hidden aspects of human history and how many of these old questions are seen in the light of new technologies and discoveries. The narrative is aided by both photographs and original illustrations that imagine scenes from both the distant past and the field experiences. (glossary, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 9-12) Copyright Kirkus 2010 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2010 December

Gr 5-7--Harrison's clear text investigates a long-standing question: "Who came first?" in the prehistory of the Americas. Did people cross on the Beringia land bridge on foot? Did they paddle or sail their way along the Siberia/Beringia coastline to Alaska and points south? And when did they arrive? Harrison begins with the Clovis people, whose beautifully fluted flint points set an artistic standard in the prehistoric Americas (and who were the first to be brought to the attention of the modern world), and goes on to record the efforts and finds of scientists searching for the cultures that preceded them. Photographs of digs, artifacts, and scientists at work and maps and realistic illustrations offer visual enrichment to the text, and a glossary will assist novices to the subject. Harrison concludes with up-to-date archaeological information and photos of recent digs, but admits that the precise answer to "first?" is yet to be found. Similar in reading level to Patricia Lauber's handsome Who Came First?: New Clues to Prehistoric Americans (National Geographic, 2003), this intriguing addition is a solid find.--Patricia Manning, formerly at Eastchester Public Library, NY

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