Faces From the Past:
Forgotten People of North America
A book about the facial reconstruction of historic remains found in North America
2013 Outstanding Science Trade Book for Students K-12
chosen by the National Science Teachers Association
"Staring into the Faces of the Past, students might find eerie personal connections to both their stories and the science that helps us tell them. This NSTA/CBC Outstanding Science Trade Book follows the work of forensic anthropologists in reconstructing the faces of native Americans, settlers, soldiers, and slaves over a thousand years of American history. Readers will gain an insight into one of Virginia's first Indian tribes, the Monacans. Between 800 and 1000 AD they migrated from the area of today's Ohio. They relive life in a Nineteenth Century almshouse through the reconstructed faces of its residents, and solve the mystery of the fatal gunshot wound that killed a Mexican soldier at San Jacinto. There's also the story of a "Buffalo (Afro–American) Soldier" from New Mexico, relating a history that may be new to many readers. The science of facial reconstruction combines with research on history, geography, and climate in this series of fascinating investigations, making it an ideal starting point for interdisciplinary units or school projects. The vivid photos in this secondary level book could be disconcerting to some, but the tales they tell are captivating. The book not only describes state–of–the–art science but introduces readers to interesting ethical questions. Should unearthed remains be studied or reburied? What place did the poor have in past communities? How should society deal with "gravediggers" who collect remains privately? Read cover–to–cover or in interesting sections, this book seamlessly interweaves history with the practices of science."
Best Children’s Books of 2012
chosen by School Library Journal
"From 10,500-year-old mummified remains found in Nevada's Spirit Cave to buried Chinese miners in Wyoming (1881), Deem considers the fates of often-unknown individuals and the information that their remains has yielded about them and the times in which they lived. Instructive black-and-white photos document the painstaking work of forensic specialists, and the repatriation efforts to honor these men, women, and children."
CCBC Choices 2013
chosen by Cooperative Children's Book Center, School of Education, University of Wisconsin
"When archaeologists uncover human skeletal remains, we can’t really know what the individual looked like until an artist, working with forensic anthropologists, reconstructs the face. James Deem focuses on nine sites in North America, dating from 9400 BP (before the present) to 1881, showing how teams of scientists work together to reconstruct details of each individual’s life. He includes a range of people, from a prehistoric man to hitherto forgotten people who died in a nineteenth-century almshouse, sharing what scientists can learn about the lives of these individuals from studying their remains. Once the historical context has been set for each one, we see the artist at work, reconstructing each face. A multitude of crisp color photographs, maps, and diagrams illustrate the well-documented text."
a Top Ten Children's History Book of 2012
chosen by NonfictionDetectives.com
the 2015 Garden State Teen Book Award (Nonfiction Grades 6-12)