Lucy Long Ago

Lucy Long Ago

Uncovering the Mystery of Where We Came from

By Catherine Thimmesh

Houghton Mifflin, Hardcover, 9780547051994, 63pp.

Publication Date: May 2009


Illustrated in full color throughout with stunning compuer-generated artwork and with rare paleo photography, this story of scientific sleuthing invites us to wonder what our ancestors were like. From the discovery of Lucy's bones in Hadar, Ethiopia, to the process of recovering and interpreting them (a multidisciplinary approach with contributions from paleontologists, paleoanthropologists, archeologists, geologists and geochronologists), this book shows how a pile of 47 bones led scientists to discover a new -- and, at 3.2 million years old, a very very old -- species of hominid, ancestral to humans.

Scientists involved include: James Aronson, geochronologist at Dartmouth, NH John Gurche, paleoartist at Cornell, NY Donald Johansen, scientist at Institue of Human Origins at Arizona State University Owen Lovejoy, biological anthropologist at Kent State, Ohio Dirk Van Tuerenhout at Houston's Museum of Natural Science, Texas.

About the Author
Catherine Thimmesh is the award-winning author of many books for children, including "Team Moon", winner of the Sibert Medal. Her books have received numerous starred reviews, appeared on best books lists, and won many awards, including the IRA Children's Book Award and Minnesota Book Award. She lives in Minnesota with her family. Visit her website at

Praise For Lucy Long Ago

“Extensive research, clear organization and writing, appropriate pacing for new ideas and intriguing graphics all contribute to this exceptionally accessible introduction to the mystery of human origins, timed to accompany Lucy’s six-year tour of U.S. museums.”--Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"Here’s a nonfiction book that deserves the highest of compliments: it reads like a science book . . . Thimmesh opens her narrative with a poetic conjecture that gives such adventure its mystery and due: “Long ago it lived...even before it had a name. It climbed trees; it roamed the savannah on two legs; it munched on berries and grasses.” The answer to the implied question—“What is ‘it’?”—propels the reader to turn page after page . . . a handsome book, but also a substantive one."--The Horn Book Magazine

"With unexpected simplicity and even poetry, Thimmesh uses two beginnings to tell the story of the hominid who changed humans’ family tree . . . the final portrait of Lucy as she may have looked is a stunner. Like the investigative method itself, this sparks questions and also answers them."— Booklist, starred review

“. . . this should satisfy a young patron’s request for material on seriously old human remains.”--The Bulletin

"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 . . . 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."--School Library Journal, starred review