Their Skeletons Speak

Kennewick Man and the Paleoamerican World

  • Interest Level: Grade 6 - Grade 12
  • Reading Level: Grade 5

On July 28, 1996, two young men stumbled upon human bones in the shallow water along the shore of the Columbia River near Kennewick, Washington. Was this an unsolved murder? The remnants of some settler’s or Native American’s unmarked grave? What was the story behind this skeleton?

Within weeks, scientific testing yielded astonishing news: the bones were more than 9,000 years old! The skeleton instantly escalated from interesting to extraordinary. He was an individual who could provide firsthand evidence about the arrival of humans in North America. The bones found scattered in the mud acquired a name: Kennewick Man.

Authors Sally M. Walker and Douglas W. Owsley take you through the painstaking process of how scientists determined who Kennewick Man was and what his life was like. New research, never-before-seen photos of Kennewick Man’s remains, and a lifelike facial reconstruction will introduce you to one of North America’s earliest residents.

But the story doesn’t end there. Walker and Owsley also introduce you to a handful of other Paleoamerican skeletons, exploring their commonalities with Kennewick Man. Together, their voices form a chorus to tell the complex tale of how humans came to North America—if we will only listen.

Format Your Price Add
Interest Level Grade 6 - Grade 12
Reading Level Grade 5
Genre Social Studies
Copyright 2012
Publisher Lerner Publishing Group
Imprint Carolrhoda Books ®
Language English
Number of Pages 136
Publication Date 2014-08-01
Reading Counts! Level 11.4
Text Type Narrative Nonfiction
BISACS JNF025020, JNF025080, JNF051170
Dewey 970.01'1
Graphics Full-color illustrations
Dimensions 7.75 x 10.25
Lexile 1140
ATOS Reading Level 8.7
Accelerated Reader® Quiz 153619
Accelerated Reader® Points 6.0
Features Awards, Bibliography/further reading, Index, Reviewed, Starred Reviews, Teaching Guides, and eSource


  • NCSS/CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People, Winner, 2013
  • Cooperative Children's Book Center (CCBC) Choices, Winner, 2013
  • Children's Book Committee at Bank Street College Best Children's Book of the Year, Winner, 2013
  • Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Books, Winner, 2012
  • School Library Journal Best Book, Winner, 2012


Library Media Connection

“This title is hard to put down once you start it. This would be an excellent addition to every school library.” —starred, Library Media Connection

The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

“[F]or serious readers who delight in forensic investigation or perhaps consider a future in the field, this material will push their understanding further than most titles on this subject for youth readership.” —The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

Yellow Brick Road

Chance discovery of human bones on the banks of the Columbia River prompted a police investigation and led to the discovery that the bones were more than 9,000 years old! “Even though this narrative begins with the discovery of bones, it is ultimately the tale of a human life, of a strong man who overcame great physical pain, of someone who was, above all, a survivor. It might also be part of a tale of how humans came to North America.” The story of what scientists learned from studying the bones is gripping.


“Enhanced by maps and diagrams as well as photos of discovery sites, remains, and scientists at work, this account imparts a clear sense of how hard and subtle that work is—and how exciting, too.” —Booklist

The Horn Book Magazine

“Walker and Owsley… build the narrative clue by clue, first in determination of the find’s importance, then through a richly detailed portrait of the practice of anthropology.” —The Horn Book Magazine

School Library Journal

“This detailed study of the discovery and forensic evaluation of the skeleton dubbed ‘Kennewick Man’ puts forensic TV shows to shame… Lucid writing, fine scientific explanations, and attractive bookmaking make this a winner.” —starred, School Library Journal

Kirkus Reviews

“An attractive volume digs deeply into stories of ancient American skeletons….A special treat for archaeology buffs.” —Kirkus Reviews

Author: Sally M. Walker

Sally M. Walker has been a children's book writer for over 20 years. Most of her books are nonfiction and present various science topics to young readers. Fossil Fish Found Alive is the story of the hunt for the elusive fish called the coelacanth. Sally also enjoys combining science investigation with historical topics. Her book Secrets of a Civil War Submarine, which won the 2006 Robert F. Sibert Medal, tells about the history, loss, and re-discovery of the first submarine to sink an enemy ship in battle. Written in Bone: Buried Lives of Jamestown and Colonial Maryland takes readers on archaeological expeditions, where the forensic analysis of colonial settlers' bones helps us to understand their lives. Sally especially enjoys writing narrative nonfiction that captures the reader's attention with a true story. She is also the author of 2019 Orbis Pictus Honor Book Champion: The Comeback Tale of the American Chestnut.

Lerner eSource™ offers free digital teaching and learning resources, including Common Core State Standards (CCSS) teaching guides. These guides, created by classroom teachers, offer short lessons and writing exercises that give students specific instruction and practice using Common Core skills and strategies. Lerner eSource also provides additional resources including online activities, downloadable/printable graphic organizers, and additional educational materials that would also support Common Core instruction. Download, share, pin, print, and save as many of these free resources as you like!

Their Skeletons Speak

On July 28, 1996, two young men stumbled upon human bones in the shallow water along the shore of the Columbia River near Kennewick, Washington. Was this an unsolved murder? The remnants of some settler’s or Native American’s unmarked grave? What was the story behind this… View available downloads →