Monday, April 12, 2010

Nonfiction Monday: If Stones Could Speak: Unlocking the Secrets of Stonehenge

I'm delighted to host today's Nonfiction Monday. My contribution for today is Marc Aronson's If Stones Could Speak: Unlocking the Secrets of Stonehenge.  If you have a post to contribute, please leave a link in the comments section.  I will update this post several times throughout the day with your posts.  Thanks for visiting and contributing!

Aronson, Marc. 2010. If Stones Could Speak: Unlocking the Secrets of Stonehenge. Washington, DC: National Geographic.

I recently read a fantastic book of fiction, The Death-Defying Pepper Roux.  In it, the young Pepper Roux deposits himself into the lives of an unlikely mix of people,easily  masquerading as a grizzled sea captain, a reporter, a drunken husband, a store clerk.  How does he do it?  Well, he theorizes,

"People see what they expect to see. Don't they?"

And this, is the theme of If Stones Could Speak: Unlocking the Secrets of Stonehenge.  For decades - even centuries, people have assumed that 4,500-year-old, mysterious circle of stones on England's Salisbury Plain was an ancient temple - perhaps belonging to the Druids.  Why did they think this?  Because that is what they were told, and that is what they expected to see.

Fast forward to 1998, when lesser-known archaeologists, Mike Parker Pearson and Ramilsonia, suggested to the world that Stonehenge was not a place of the living, but rather a monument to the dead.  Then later, in 2005, when Mike Parker Pearson's team uncovered Woodhenge, the circle of the living, a nearby wooden counterpart to Stonehenge, it was as if (to paraphrase the book) scholars living 4,000 years from now were studying a basketball hoop.  Every famous professor and teacher is certain that the hoop and post are part of a complex religious ritual.  Scores of books and studies have been written on the subject, when suddenly, a newcomer says, "Hey, did you notice that there is another hoop at the other end of the court?  I think ancient people played games here."

This is the story told in If Stones Could Speak; it is more than the story of Stonehenge, how it was built and used (although that is covered in detail as well).  It is rather a lesson that one should always look at a problem from all sides and be willing to accept new ideas and discard old ones.  This 64-page book contains nine chapters that tell the story of Stonehenge, of scientific discoveries (both new and old), and of Mike Parker Pearson's Stonehenge Riverside Project.  As expected in a National Geographic publication, the photos are excellent and numerous with detailed captions.  Easy explanations are included for the processes of carbon dating and strontium analysis.  Rounding out the story are maps, a brief encyclopedia of Stonehenge, a chronology of Stonehenge digs, a timeline, and suggestions for further reading.

This is a perfect choice for grades 5-8, particularly for research paper use.  Also perfect for anyone interested in knowing more about Stonehenge, and the related Woodhenge, Southern Circle, Avenue, and Durrington Walls.  All are connected in this fascinating new look at a very old topic.

The schedule for future Nonfiction Monday sites may be found at Picture Book of the Day.  Thanks to
Anastasia Suen for coordinating Nonfiction Monday events.

That's it! This East Coast gal is done for the day.  If there are any late additions, I'll add them tomorrow. Thanks to everyone for your great contributions!


  1. Thanks for hosting. If Stones Could Speak sounds fascinating! I've reviewed National Geographic Prehistoric Mammals.

  2. At Abby the Librarian I'm reviewing two books from Bearport's Disaster Survivors series -

    Thanks for hosting!

  3. That sounds like a fascinating book!

    I myself have The Humblebee Hunter, by Deborah Hopkinson, at

  4. This week at the Wild About Nature blog, we have a review of Garbage Helps our Garden Grow: A Compost Story. This is the second review in our series celebrating Earth Day.

    If Stones Could Speak sounds fascinating. Thanks for hosting this week!

  5. Oceans by Johnna Rizzo - its also a National Geographic title

    Thanks so much for getting up early and hosting

    If Stones Could Speak sounds like something adults would enjoy as well.

  6. I have a selection of Earth Day materials from HarperCollins, about which I am not overly enthusiastic, just to be honest up front.

  7. I have Cocci, Spirilla, and Other Bacteria at SimplyScience. I'll have to check out If Stones Could Speak. It looks interesting. Thank you for hosting!

  8. To celebrate Math Awareness Month, The Cat & The Fiddle has an interiew with author Loreen Leedy. She talks about the creation of MISSING MATH.

  9. Bookends@ has a review of Bulu: African Wonder Dog by Dick Houston. Thanks for hosting today.

    Lynn Rutan

  10. Thanks so much for hosting. Today I have a review of Marching for Freedom: Walk Together, Children, and Don't You Grow Weary by Elizabeth Partridge.

    Robin Gaphni

  11. I'm in with a review of the graphic memoir, Smile.

  12. I've reviewed ABCs Naturally, a photo essay of the alphabet. Perfect for spring changes. Thanks for hosting.

  13. I'm on tap today with a look at words - funny words, to be precise. As a writer of humorous non-fiction, and a silly, loud-mouthed gal, I'm naturally always on the lookout for words and phrases that tickle the old funnybone. I'm looking for contributions - your own fave funny words - so please take a peek and leave a comment.

    Helaine Becker

  14. Hi,

    I am simply bursting with spring fever today in a poetry-inspired post

    Thanks for hosting

  15. Thanks for hosting.

    I have an activity for teaching students to recognize the difference between fiction and non-fiction books.

  16. The Stonehenge book sounds very good. I'm definitely going to look for it.

    Today at Whispers of Dawn, I posted on Uncommon Traveler: Mary Kingsley in Africa, written and illustrated by Don Brown.

    Thanks for hosting this week!

  17. I'm exploring poetry and art over at Wendie's Wanderings, today, with Nature's Paintbox, a Seasonal Gallery of Art and Verse by Patricia Thomas.

    Wendie Old


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