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If Stones Could Speak: Unlocking the Secrets of Stonehenge (Orbis Pictus Honor for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children (Awards)) Hardcover – March 9, 2010

4.7 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 5–8—This title is not just an examination of recent breakthroughs at Stonehenge, but rather an essay on the process of archaeology and a hopeful reminder to future archaeologists that all the great sites are not yet dug or fully understood. In 2005, the Riverside Project, led by Mike Parker Pearson, made several significant discoveries that placed Stonehenge within a much larger Neolithic complex. Pearson began with a hypothesis, suggested by a retired archaeologist from Madagascar, that, as in Madagascar, the stone of Stonehenge was to honor ancestors and the dead, and that there would be a sister complex made of wood for the living. This idea was radically different from the previously accepted theory of Stonehenge being used as a temple. The ongoing work of the Riverside Project has revised the long-accepted dates of when Stonehenge was built and found much to support Pearson's hypothesis. Aronson writes in a casual style and addresses readers directly, which effectively conveys the excitement of this research, although it does occasionally assume some background knowledge that seems unlikely. The story of how Pearson became involved in archaeology and came to work at Stonehenge gets nearly as much attention as the work currently being done there and underscores one of Aronson's central themes—that we are constantly adding to our understanding of the past. Large, colorful photographs complement the text and several shots capture what archaeology-in-progress looks like. A useful, attractive, and highly readable book.—Caroline Tesauro, Radford Public Library, VA
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From Booklist

*Starred Review* As in his contributions to Scott Reynolds Nelson’s Ain’t Nothing but a Man: My Quest to Find the Real John Henry (2008), Aronson’s focus here is less on presenting the past as a tidy narrative than explaining how a cautious interpretation of historical—or in this case archaeological—clues can connect the dots in less-speculative ways. Aronson investigates the work of archaeologist Mike Parker Pearson and his controversial theory that Stonehenge is but one end of a memorial ritual pathway that would have had an equivalent wooden structure at the other end. Despite the challenges of looking for supporting evidence that would be at least as old as the Egyptian pyramids and that was left by a society with no written records, the painstaking digs of Pearson’s Riverside Project have turned up roadways, signs of a large prehistoric settlement, and insights into how some of the henges, mounds, and other ancient human works in the area might have been created and used. Aronson briefly mentions the 2009 discovery of an earlier stone circle (dubbed “Bluestonehenge”) nearby, sums up previous archaeological studies, and closes with an impassioned restatement of his theme—that fresh eyes can shed light on the deepest secrets of science. Time lines, resource lists, and photos of researchers at work add even more value to this informative, thought-provoking study. A uniquely perceptive look at how real science works, this covers a topic whose fascination derives in no small part from the interplay between the mysteries of the unknown and the excitement of new discovery. Grades 4-6. --John Peters
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 1070L (What's this?)
  • Series: Orbis Pictus Honor for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children (Awards)
  • Hardcover: 64 pages
  • Publisher: National Geographic Children's Books (March 9, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1426305990
  • ISBN-13: 978-1426305993
  • Product Dimensions: 9.7 x 0.6 x 11.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #346,055 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

All of my books start with questions, and I hope they prompt readers to ask questions of their own.

I find history history endlessly fascinating. It is the detective story that yields us as the answer.

I try to write each book with the same care I would put into a novel, but with the same respect for truth as a judge in a court of law.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
As a boy Mike Parker Pearson had archaeology in his bones, but there was no chance of him discovering anything new because all the archaeologists before him undoubtedly had discovered everything ... or had they? Men like Richard Atkinson, one of the "elegant, wise gentlemen who knew it all," had been secretive in his work and it was later discovered that during his work at Stonehenge he had made mistakes. His assistant, probably too cowed to say anything, was silent. There was something about Stonehenge that was still mysterious, uncomplete and somehow hidden. A voice half a world away needed to speak and that voice belonged to Ramilisonia, an archaeologist from Madagascar, who "could see the ancient stone circle with fresh eyes." He would join Mike and the Riverside Project Team, a team that would help the stones and the soil talk to us.

Mike, who had worked with him, brought him to the circle so he could take a look. The answer was simple, but proving it would take money, time and tenacity. "The stones were put up for the ancestors." It was a surreal moment that Mike would probably never forget. Certain things about the stones and the circle weren't up for debate. It was known that the stones were made of sarsen, "a form of stone made from grains of sand that have hardened and bonded to form a tough form of sandstone." (p. 9) The sarsens had been moved from a distance of 18 miles away while the bluestone had traveled an amazing 150 miles. Mike had been once told to "be sensible," but now was not the time. Questions needed to be answered after Ramilisonia made the connection between the stone and the wood. What secrets was this circle holding? What were the mistakes others had made? Would the soils finally give up their secrets?
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Format: Library Binding Verified Purchase
I picked up a copy at our local library--new in the children's section--and was simply dazzled. Straightforward text, lots of photographs and drawings, appealing to readers of all ages. The author reminds his readers that sometimes even though we think we know all there is to know about something (Stonehenge, in this instance), there is really much, much more to learn. Aronson says over and over to start what others have done, but to think and see things in your own way because it may just lead to some amazing results! A must read for history buffs or wanna-be archaeologists.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Stonehenge is spectacular. When preparing to go there, I read this book and it helped me understand what had happened during that time in that region of England and prepared my husband and me for a memorable day traveling in southern England and visiting several Neolithic sites. And it was a fairly quick read.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Very upbeat, current and interesting. If you are visiting Stonehenge even adults will enjoy this.I found this at our local library and ordered for my grandchildren.
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If Stones Could Speak: Unlocking the Secrets of Stonehenge (Orbis Pictus Honor for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children (Awards))
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