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Reading the Bones

A Peggy Henderson Adventure

by Gina McMurchy-Barber

2 ratings
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reviews: 2
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mysteries & detective stories
list price: $11.99
also available: eBook eBook
published: 2008
publisher: Dundurn Press
Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
9 to 12
Reading age:
9 to 12
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Community Reviews and Comments
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Association of Book Publishers of BC
Librarian review

Reading the Bones: A Peggy Henderson Adventure

In this novel, twelve-year-old Peggy Henderson eases the loneliness of separation from her mother by getting involved in the excavation of Aboriginal remains found buried in her uncle’s backyard. With the help of an elderly archaeologist, Peggy comes to understand the significance of the find as she learns the history of the buried storyteller and of her new home, Crescent Beach, BC. Increasing tension between Peggy and her aunt pushes Peggy to a desperate act that she immediately regrets. Peggy must find a way to make amends for this rash impulse and in so doing comes to a better understanding of the adults in her life.

McMurchy-Barber won the 2004 Governor General’s Award for Excellence in Teaching Canadian History.

Source: The Association of Book Publishers of BC. Canadian Aboriginal Books for Schools. 2008-2009.

Canadian Children's  Book Centre
Librarian review

Reading the Bones (Peggy Henderson Adventure)

Twelve-year-old Peggy moves to a quiet town in British Columbia to live with her aunt and uncle. She feels her unhappiness increasing until the day she and her uncle find a human skull in the backyard. She comes to know the ancient storyteller buried in her yard in a way few others can — by reading the bones.

Source: The Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Best Books for Kids & Teens. 2009.

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  • Short-listed, Silver Birch Award
  • Commended, Best Books for Kids & Teens
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Short-listed for the 2009 Silver Birch Award, commended for the 2009 Best Books for Kids & Teens
Due to circumstances beyond her control, 12-year-old Peggy Henderson has to move to the quiet town of Crescent Beach, British Columbia, to live with her aunt and uncle. Without a father and separated from her mother, who’s looking for work, Peggy feels her unhappiness increasing until the day she and her uncle start digging a pond in the backyard and she realizes the rock she’s been trying to pry from the ground is really a human skull.
Peggy eventually learns that her home and the entire seaside town were built on top of a 5000-year-old Coast Salish fishing village. With the help of an elderly archaeologist, a woman named Eddy, Peggy comes to know the ancient storyteller buried in her yard in a way that few others can – by reading the bones.
As life with her aunt becomes more and more unbearable, Peggy looks to the old Salish man from the past for help and answers.

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Contributor notes

Gina McMurchy-Barber was the recipient of the 2004 Governor General's Award for Excellence in Teaching Canadian History. Prior to teaching, she majored in archaeologist at Simon Fraser University, studied orangutans in Borneo's jungles with Dr. Birute Galdikas, and led backpack tours to Asia and South America. She lives in Surrey, British Columbia.

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Editorial Reviews

... centers its fascinating - and informative - plot on a middle-schooler who uncovers a human skull in her backyard. With help from an archaeologist, she learns her town was built on top of a 5,000 year-old fishing village.

It's an entertaining read that also manages – in its story twists relating to the potential fate of precious artifacts – to nudge the reader subtly towards an understanding of the importance of modern cultural resource management.

— Black Press

I think kids should read this book because it is quick, easy-to-read, fun and interesting I enjoyed the variety of personalities in the characters. The pictures that I envisioned were vivid, there was lots of details given. The conclusion left me satisfied and it seemed original.

— Joe, age 13

... it is an interesting read and certainly presents some of the enigmatic allure of archaeology in enticing terms.

— Resource Links

Reading the Bones is an excellent story that shows the importance of the past to the present, but also the importance of learning who you are. Recommended.

— CM Magazine
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About the Author

Gina McMurchy-Barber

Gina McMurchy-Barber is the author of Free as a Bird, a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award, and the Peggy Henderson Adventure Series. Gina lives in Surrey, B.C.

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