If Stones Could Speak: Unlocking the Secrets of Stonehenge by Marc Aronson with Mike Parker Pearson

if-stonesLynn: If Stones Could Speak (National Geographic 2010) is the best nonfiction book I’ve read so far this year! I really loved this book for lots of reasons. First, it has almost instant appeal. Like so many people I am fascinated by Stonehenge. The mysteries about its origins and purpose are irresistible. Who built it, how did they do it and why? So a book about a new theory of Stonehenge had automatic appeal for me but it is Aronson’s step-by-step explanation of the development of the new theory and its supporting evidence that I admire. I’m not sure what planet I’ve been on but I missed the announcements and discussion of the theory and excavations by Mike Parker Pearson and the Riverside Project and this wonderfully written account is clear and easy to follow. The book is beautifully designed too with gorgeous photographs, maps, illustrations and a wealth of supporting documentation. I kept turning again and again to the two-page depiction of the entire site.

So – all this adds up to a wonderful and fascinating book but what makes it really stand out for me? It is this underlying message to readers and how skillfully it is integrated throughout the book:

This is a book about questioning what others believe to be true, not accepting ideas just because famous people say they are right.

It is this idea that frames the entire book right up to the last when Aronson urges readers not to assume that any one authority has it right – including the ideas presented in this book. Hurray! Can there be a better way to present nonfiction, especially for youngsters? Far too many of the Internet generation blindly accept what they read and I salute this respectful challenge to readers – young and old – to think for themselves.

Cindy: I missed the news about the new theory, too, but I remembered what planet we were both on when it hit the news: you were chairing BBYA and I was serving as your administrative assistant. Who had time to read newspapers while serving on BBYA? So, I am most appreciative of this book that brings me up to speed with what has been unfolding at the Salisbury Plain.

I’m forever in awe of archaeologists and the tools and tests they have developed that allow them to know things like the cows that were eaten at the site came from over 70 miles away, rather than having been raised locally, indicating that people came here (bringing food) for special celebrations. Aronson’s explanation of how a visiting archaeologist from Madagascar influenced the direction of the research and presented a whole new theory on the mysteries of Stonehenge is fascinating and clearly explained for its audience.

Marc Aronson has long been a proponent for readers reexamining the facts and not being afraid to draw their own conclusions rather than blindly accepting the information that has been handed down from previous generations. His nonfiction for young adults has encouraged his young readers to engage in the same thoughtful consideration of the “facts” that he does when writing his books. This new look at Stonehenge gives him perhaps his most clear example of the importance of questioning what others believe to be true, and one that is easily accessible to a younger audience. Just fabulous.

nonfictionmonday2Thank you to Wrapped in Foil for hosting Nonfiction Monday this week.

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

3 Comments on "If Stones Could Speak: Unlocking the Secrets of Stonehenge by Marc Aronson with Mike Parker Pearson"

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  1. scopenotes@gmail.com' Scope Notes says:

    A ringing endorsement! I was curious about this one, so I’m glad you featured it. I’ll be anxious to check it out.

  2. Vowittenstein@gmail.com' Vicki Wittenstein says:

    I am a big fan of Marc Aronson’s books. I particularly appreciate how logically he presents his research and theories. I love the title of this new book!
    -Vicki Wittenstein

  3. wrappedinfoilblog@gmail.com' Roberta says:

    Doesn’t seem like the Stonehenge research made much of a splash here, I hadn’t heard about it either. I agree with your statement about the Internet, and not just the younger generations 🙂

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