32 Books in 32 Days – Day 32: Lucy Long Ago

Each day leading up to the April 17 announcement of the 22nd Annual Minnesota Book Awards, we highlight one of the thirty-two finalists. Today, we feature


Young People’s Literature Finalist,
Lucy Long Ago: Uncovering the Mystery of Where We Came From
Catherine Thimmesh


An excerpt from Lucy Long Ago: Uncovering the Mystery of Where We Came From:

Its resurrection began on a hot, sticky day in Hadar, Ethiopia, in November 1974. The scientist who stumbled up it, who discovered that first bit of elbow jutting out of the sediment, was, in fact, searching for it. Had, in fact, traveled to the other side of the world hoping to find it. Or someone like it…he wasn’t that picky. He was hunting hominids: skeleton bones of human ancestors.

Donald Johanson and a team of scientists were digging for bones, yes, but primarily they were detectives on a case. They were trying to solve one of the greatest mysteries of all time: Where did we come from? Each hominid fossil discovery was a clue; its analysis, a tiny piece of the giant jigsaw puzzle of human evolution.

This fascinating book contains computer generated images of an ape with some very human like features, named Lucy, whose bones were discovered in Ethiopia in 1974. The author describes the process of recovering the bones and interpreting them. She also discusses their importance in discovering who humans are and where we came from.


Catherine Thimmesh is the Sibert Medal-winning author of Team Moon. Her book, Madam President, a New York Times notable book, was recently updated to reflect recent advances for women in politics, including Hillary Clinton’s historic run for the presidency. Catherine’s previous books, Girls Think of Everything and The Sky’s the Limit, have been translated into Korean and Chinese. Girls Think of Everything won the 2001 IRA Children’s Book Award, was a Children’s Book of the Month Best Nonfiction Book 2000, a Minnesota Book Award finalist, and a Smithsonian Notable Book 2000 (amongst other honors). The Sky’s the Limit won the Minnesota Book Award in 2002, was a Smithsonian Notable Book 2002, and an Outstanding Science and Social Studies Trade Book for Children 2002. Catherine lives in Eden Prairie with her husband and two children.


“This is the way to produce a nonfiction book for young people—gruesome, fascinating, and thoughtful. I loved the sharp and stunning photographs and illustrations, the way the story highlights the joy of discoveries, and the clear manner in which Thimmesh shows the scientific processes used to glean information from fossils.” – Minnesota Book Awards Judge

“This book is a great addition to the classroom. With terrific illustrations and a wonderful design, this is great for kids wanting to learn about Lucy and the beginnings of man.” – Minnesota Book Awards Judge

“The book’s greatest strength is how it underscores the fluidity of our understanding in a field like anthropology; it shows how one discovery can change the thinking of scientists in a dramatic way. This book also emphasizes the rigor of the sciences that study our human ancestors and explains clearly how these scientists carefully take the known to formulate new ideas about the unknown parts of our human history. The clear writing, excellent photographs, and the unique approach of exploring the field of anthropology through one spectacular specimen make this book a first purchase.” – Caroline Tesauro, School Library Journal



Award winners will be announced at the sold out 22nd Annual Minnesota Book Awards Gala on Saturday, April 17, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, in downtown Saint Paul. The opening reception begins at 6:30 p.m.; followed by the awards ceremony at 8 p.m. If you wish to be placed on a waiting list should additional seats become available, please
call us at 651-222-3242.

If you missed out on tickets, be among the first to hear about the winners! Follow us on Twitter as we tweet live from the gala on Saturday night.

Have you read Lucy Long Ago? What are your thoughts? We welcome your comments!


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