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For Young Readers: 'Marcelo in the Real World,' 'Moonshot,' 'Written in Bone'

-- Kristi Jemtegaard

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WRITTEN IN BONE

Buried Lives of Jamestown and Colonial Maryland

By Sally M. Walker

Carolrhoda. $22.95, age 12 and up

Like last year's "Bodies From the Ice," this book takes the remains of the long-dead and reconstructs elements of their lives in startling detail. Sally M. Walker follows Smithsonian forensic anthropologist Douglas Owsley as he and his colleagues investigate colonial sites in the Chesapeake region; photographs capture every crucial step in disciplines ranging from geology to nuclear physics. Through all the meticulous sifting, digging, examining and testing, what becomes clear is the immense hardship experienced by the 17th-century settlers. (The author considered Native American graves off-limits out of respect for their burial traditions.) The first of many skeletons Walker discusses turns out to be that of a teenager who endured a raging infection in his jaw before dying in some still-mysterious way at Jamestown. No better off was the young indentured servant in Maryland afflicted with tuberculosis, bone fractures and horrendous dental pain; his body was thrown into the house's trash pit, presumably to save his master the expense of a burial. Even the wife of the most prominent leader in St. Mary's City suffered from severe osteoporosis, infections and poisoning by arsenic, a medical remedy of the time. Walker's absorbing book reveals what can be gained from digging deeply and patiently.

-- Abby McGanney Nolan


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