Book Review: Lucy Long Ago: Uncovering the Mystery of Where We Came From

Lucy Long AgoLucy Long Ago: Uncovering the Mystery of Where We Came From

by Catherine Thimmesh
Houghton Mifflin, 2009.
ISBN-13 9780547051994
$18.00 U.S / $24.50 Cdn.  (hardcover)
64 pages

“There was simply no place for this little hominid on the human family tree. Where did it belong? Suddenly, everything scientists thought they knew about human evolution was thrown into question.”  (back cover copy)

Cybils MG/YA Non-fiction Nominee

This book was hard to put down! It is the story of Lucy, a fossilized hominid skeleton that was discovered in Hadar, Ethiopia in 1974.  The discovery of Lucy, the oldest and most complete hominid skeleton ever found, significantly changed the way scientists thought about ancient hominids.

In Lucy Long Ago, Catherine Thimmesh walks young readers through the discovery of Lucy’s bones and the process of recovering and interpreting them. Along the way, the book poses a series of questions, and explores how scientists from a variety of disciplines came up with answers based on the evidence provided by Lucy’s skeleton. Through interviews and direct quotations from the specialists involved, Thimmesh explains the fascinating work of paleoanthropologists, geochronologists, and paleo-artists.

The book is very well-organized and the writing is clear and engaging. Each section opens with a heading in the form of a question (Child or Grownup? Boy or Girl? Known Species or New?) followed by narrative passages and explanatory sidebars, photos and illustrations. Each chapter wraps up with a section called “And the Bones Said…” which provides a brief answer the opening question.

I especially liked how the author does not shy away from using proper scientific terminology but rather uses sidebars to define and/or clarify important terms and concepts. The photos and illustrations are fantastic! The comparative photos of skeletons are especially fascinating, as are the pictures of the life-size model of Lucy that was created by paleo-artists.

The endmatter is also top-notch: A glossary, acknowledgments page, source notes and a list of recommended website are provided.


Posted on December 16, 2009, in by Erin and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. wowwwwwwwwwwwww!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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