Bodies from the Ice: Melting Glaciers and the Recovery of the Past

GN 293.D43 – GN is Anthropology. Bodies from the Ice has received several awards and honors.  It was a 2009 Robert F. Sibert Informational Award Honor Book (awarded by the ALA’s Association for Library Service to Children), a finalist for the 2010 AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books, a Kirkus Reviews’ Best Children’s Books of 2008, an ALA Notable Book for Children 2009,  a 2009 Outstanding Science Trade Book for Students K-12 (National Science Teachers Association and the Children’s Book Council), a Capitol Choices Noteworthy Book 2009 (10-14), and it was on the 2008 New York Public Library, 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing list.

Author: James M. Deem
ISBN-10: 061880045X ISBN-13: 978-0618800452
City and Publisher: Boston: Houghton Mifflin
Copyright Date: 2008
Author’s Website:

Reader’s Annotation: Bodies as old as 5,000 years have been discovered  in glaciers!  Travel the world for a look at who has popped out of the ice.

Book Summary: Bodies from the Ice takes a look at glaciers and how they work to preserve pieces of our past – human bodies.  The book covers bodies found in the Alps, the Andes, the Himalayas, and even in Canada, from copper age mummies to lost explorers of the past century.  It examines the change in the rate of glacial melt and discusses what readers can do about it.

Critical Evaluation: Bodies covers a fascinating subject from many angles.  The emphasis is on process and science, rather than anthropological speculation.  At times the book is overly detailed about the behavior of glaciers, but it returns to anthropology and recaptures the reader’s interest.  The section at the end on personal ways to help the environment and effects of glacial melt seems to be a bit of an afterthought, and is the weakest part of the book.  Deem treats his gruesome subject in a very matter of fact fashion; he is neither too delicate nor cavalier.

Illustrations: Both color and historical photographs, as well as maps, are this book’s primary illustrations.  The photos feel a little National Geographic-y.  The pictures of dead bodies are unapologetic and frankly, but not gratuitously, gruesome.

Reading Level/Interest: 9 & up.  As with Tracking Trash, Bodies from the Ice is simple and clearly written but not babyish.  Older children, teens, and adults may find this book interesting.
Curriculum Ties: Anthropology, Environmental Studies, Climate Change, Geography, and Meterology
Booktalking Ideas: Blow up a few pictures from the book and bring in artifacts.  Wear mountain climbing equipment and pretend to fall to your death.

Genre: Non-Fiction

Challenge Issues: The photos of dead bodies are realistic and gruesome.  The chapter on Incan child sacrifice is particularly graphic.  Some parents may wish to shield their children from these images.  Some children may want to shield themselves from these images, particularly if they are prone to nightmares.  Parents with concerns should be reminded that the library should serve everyone’s needs, and must provide a wide variety of information.  Reading or not reading this book is a personal choice.

About the Author: James M. Deem is the author of more than 20 books, of both fiction and non-fiction. He is married with four children and has a Ph.D. in reading education.   In addition to writing about bodies discovered in glaciers, he has written about ghosts, UFOs, treasure, ESP, castles, and bodies discovered in bogs.  More at


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