If Stones Could Speak: Unlocking the Secrets of Stonehenge (Orbis Pictus Honor for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children (Awards))

by Marc Aronson

Other authorsMike Parker Pearson (Contributor)
Hardcover, 2010



Local notes

720 Aro




National Geographic Children's Books (2010), 64 pages


Explores the mysterious monument of Stonehenge and reveals some of its secrets and history.


Original language


Physical description

64 p.; 9.7 inches

User reviews

LibraryThing member shelf-employed
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,
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"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.
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LibraryThing member KarenBall
The theories about Stonehenge have changed over time, and Aronson tells the story of Mike Parker Pearson, an archaeologist who came up with a new theory about what the site was used for in Neolithic times. His work with the Riverside Project has changed the dates when Stonehenge was built, and led
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to discoveries of a larger site. Pearson's theory is that Stonehenge is one end of a ceremonial complex -- the stone parts being for honoring the dead, and another wooden structure that would be used by the living. Part of the story is Stonehenge itself, and part is how Mike Parker Pearson got interested in archaeology, and used information from halfway around the world to come up with his ideas about Stonehenge. This is a well-told story of how archaeology leads us to a better understanding of what the world was like in the past, and how people lived. Grade 6 and up, especially appropriate for 6th graders, as archaeology is part of the social studies curriculum.
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LibraryThing member Phil9
The history myth of Stonehenge has always been something that intrigues me. The fact that stones weighing 100's of tons could be shaped and placed on top of other stones weighing just as much or more is crazy. And the secrets as to the reason it was constructed are completely flipped in this great
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Its funny how the new idea came from a native of Madagascar. A small island nowhere close to England and little if any connection to their cultures or people. But his theory that the stones were not placed for celebrations or worship but for burials and memorial to the dead was so interesting. It makes sense that he related the Stonehenge stones to headstones used in cemeteries. It was also so crazy to think that Stonehenge was just a piece of a bigger picture in history. Its amazing how they were able to make direct connections to places like Woodhenge, Bluestonehenge, the Southern Circle, the Avenue's and many other historical places in the area.
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LibraryThing member kharding
I chose this book in part because of my fascination with archeology and also because I enjoyed Witch Hunt by Marc Aronson
I have heard of Stonehenge many times, but did not know that there had been recent discoveries about this site. This book explains that it was an archeologist from Madagascar who
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was able to refocus the study of Stonehenge by providing a different perspective. Previously, experts had believed that Stonehenge served as a religious temple. However, archeologist Ramilisonina, drew from his own cultures use of stones, to come to the conclusion that Stonehenge was likely a place for ancestor worship. English archeologist Mike Parker Pearson (the main character of this book) took Ramilisonia’s suggestion and was able to uncover a new understanding on the purpose of this historic site. The Stonehenge mystery has been reinterpreted through new eyes. This book illustrates how history is not a closed field of study, but something we must continually reexamine to find out more.
I would use this book in a world history course to give context to studies of ancient societies. In order to look at history, and especially ancient history, we must be aware of the person telling the story, the tools we use to piece the facts together, and understand the gaps that exist.
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LibraryThing member LoniMc
Really interesting information on Stonehenge and wonderful pictures, but defenately not for young readers.
LibraryThing member ymelodie
These particular stories spur the imaginations of young children. I love that we, as a group, can predict what we think happened. The illustrations provide a great view for young students, also.
LibraryThing member briannad84
This was my first Stonehenge book. I noticed alot of the books for younger readers at my local library while looking for books for my son, and thought this looked interesting. It's a good way I think to get started on a hefty subject as an intro. And I thought this was a great and easy read for
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kids without being to bogged down. I learned alot and of course the photos were excellent! Still a bit too complex for my son right now though.
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LibraryThing member chermom5
This fascinating, very well detailed book about Stonehenge includes fabulous photographs and drawings of the famous site in England. The author explores Stonehenge with two archaeologists and discusses the origins of Stonehenge and the archaeology involved in trying to determine how it was made. In
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the back of the book, there is an Encyclopedia of Stonehenge, a chronology of archaeologists' theories and projects, and suggestions for further reading.
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LibraryThing member toribori19
People are often curious about the mysterious circle of stones found in England, coming up with a lot of assumptions about what the stones actually are. Do they represent a calender, maybe a place of Druid worship, or even a place for a government based council? Well this book is a behind the
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scenes look into the exploration of the Stonehenge and new theory that a team of archaeologists came up with.
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LibraryThing member Sullywriter
Excellent chronicle of how new discoveries change historical thinking.
LibraryThing member huertaen
This book was an intellectual stimulating read. I wouldn't classify it as a children's book but more of a middle school to early high school book. It was quite long and very thorough. This book is an Orbis Pictus Honor book, and it is quite clear why. The detailed information around stonehenge
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covered in this book ranges from personal stories of archaeologists, to geology, to the stonehenge itself. Very enlightening. USE: research project, geography, geology, world history
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LibraryThing member amkj
4Q, 4P Through following the story of an archaeologist with a new theory, the book has an emotional hook. However the book is fairly shallow, and I wish it gone deeper into some of the science. That said, the intent of the book is to help readers become more open minded and critically thoughtful,
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which the book does have the potential for.
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LibraryThing member breeankay
4Q, 3P.
If you have ever wondered about the mystery behind the stones being set up the way they are at Stonehenge, this book will fascinate you. Even today, scientists are still piecing together what the site was used for, and science itself is giving them more information through the debris left
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behind. What I really appreciated about this book for teens was the insights behind the archaeology...about what doing this kind of work takes in scientists themselves: fortitude, commitment, and unwavering curiosity.
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LibraryThing member Erin_Boyington
My VOYA: 4Q, 3P

What happens when one person's insight leads an archaeologist to see an ancient place like Stonehenge in a brand new way?

Spurred by the insights of an archaeologist named Ramilisonina from Madagascar, British archaeologist Mike Parker Pearson began searching the area around
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Stonehenge. This book is short and full of full-color photographs that show the ways in which the Riverside Project Team have excavated new sites that give insight into the ancient mysteries of Stonehenge.

The book reminded me of the many DK Eyewitness books I devoured as a kid (here's a list of the topics they cover), and I think it will do what author Marc Aronson intended: inspire the next generation of curious minds to look at old things in new ways and get excited about the potential of science and exploration.
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LibraryThing member gradschool14
A fascinating story of how one archaeologist made his way around the world and changed history through his work at Stonehenge. This book is full of information told in an interesting and engaging way. The pictures are lovely and the drawings realistic to the times.
LibraryThing member Phil9
I absolutely loved this book. The author worked hand in hand with the Riverside team to detail a project that would flip all prior ideas regarding this historic landmark. The content was so reader friendly and very appropriate for young reader and adult.
The format of the book was well done and
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very appropriate for this sort of read. The photos and illustrations helped the reader get a better feel for the locations of the various new sites and the 1,000 year old artifacts being unearthed.
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LibraryThing member jeannie.tucker
4Q, 3P

This book was extremely well-written, and presented a view on the origins of Stonehenge with which I was entirely unfamiliar. I've been to Stonehenge, but it was in 2005, and I don't think that these new ideas had yet been widely publicized. A fascinating story, but I think that it might be
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difficult to highlight its appeal to young readers. It reads too much like a textbook at times.
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LibraryThing member AddictedToMorphemes
After recently visiting Stonehenge, this was an interesting read about the possibilities of the reasons for its existence. The author makes a point of teaching children to go with their own reasoning, to trust their own instincts, and not to follow the crowd, even if "the crowd" is a bunch of
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so-called experts. Sometimes it takes new eyes and unbiased opinions to help people start to find the real truth. Good lesson for life, not only for finding out the original purpose for this famous site.
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½ (28 ratings; 3.8)
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