Best Books for Young Adults 2006

chosen by the American Library Association

2006 Notable Children's Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies

chosen by the National Council for the Social Studies and the Children's Book Council

"Riveting photographs and interesting narrative provide an account of life in Pompeii and a comprehensive explanation of the famous volcanic eruption of AD 79, along with insight into the work of archaeologists."

2006 Outstanding Science Trade Book for Students K-12 

chosen by the National Science Teachers Association and the Children's Book Council

"This book provides more than the usual coverage of Pompeii’s destruction, one of the earliest documented disasters. Letters discovered from a Roman historian have now given actual accounts of times and stages of the eruption. Rare images are shown, as the author was given access to buildings closed to the public."

2006 CCBC Choices 

selected by the Cooperative Children's Book Center, School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison

"The eruption of Unlike other Pompeii stories, which explain the tectonics involved in the great disaster, Bodies from the Ash focuses on human and cultural life in Pompeii. It documents the painstaking recovery and interpretation of artifacts that were ironically preserved by the very heat that killed the citizens. James Deem’s book is stuffed with photos of archaeological sites and artifacts, as well as maps and artwork that serve as primary source documents. He explains how plaster casts are made of preserved bodies and some of the basic science that goes into the identifying and cataloging remains. Based on the location of certain bodies, the clothes that they were wearing, and the angle at which their bones were crushed, archaeologists and historians can tell an amazing amount of information about the homes and the people in them, including their class, their health, and exactly what they might have been doing at the moment the volcano blew."

2006 Orbis Pictus Recommended Book

chosen by the National Council of Teachers of English

"Under the looming shadow of Mt. Vesuvius, the residents of Pompeii became unexpected victims of an eruption that buried their city under twelve feet of volcanic ash on August 24–25, AD 79. With factual details gained from trips to the archeological site site, James Deem recaptures the annihilation of a prominent Italian city and chillingly reveals ongoing archeological discoveries through meticulous excavations of the past 250 years. Early attempts to reveal the mysteries of Pompeii focused on unearthing treasures and human skeletons. However, the process of forming plaster mummies, inspired by Giuseppe Fiorelli in 1863, captured the last living moment of those who died by suffocation. Through these plaster artifacts, Deem pieces together stories of individuals, families, households, and the lifestyle of this city of the Roman Empire. Outstanding archival photographs of human plaster casts and preserved homes and gardens accompany the reader on a visual and textual journey through Pompeii. An index, bibliography, informational inserts, and captions further document the power of the sleeping giant that still threatens one million residents today."

School Library Journal Best Children’s Books of 2005

(only 62 books selected from the almost 4700 children's books reviewed in 2005 by SLJ) 

"The catastrophic volcanic explosion of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 A.D. left nearby Pompeii and Herculaneum covered for centuries in layers of debris and ash. This absorbing photo-essay incorporates first-person accounts and the astonishing findings of recent excavations with remarkable archival and contemporary photographs." 

Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA) Nonfiction Honor List 2005

"With help from many historical photographs, this outstanding story about the disastrous volcanic eruption of Vesuvius relates the events of August 24, AD 79, and details the later excavation of the victims in Pompeii and Herculaneum."

Bank Street College Best of the Best

Outstanding Books of 1997 to 2008 (from the 1998 to 2008 editions of The Best Children's Books of the Year)

"A fascinating account of the volcanic destruction of ancient Pompeii and the difficult job of uncovering its mysteries. Awe-inspiring photographs."

2005 New York Public Library, 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing

"Compelling photographs and well-informed text reveal the effects of the cataclysmic explosion."

 Selected as

a 2006 New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age

the Birmingham (AL) Public Library's 2007 Read It Forward book

Nominated for:

  the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children's Book Award, 2006-2007

 the Louisiana Young Readers' Choice Award 2008

 the South Dakota Library Association's Prairie Pasque Award 2007-2008

the Children's Literature Association of Utah's Beehive Award (Informational Book) 2007-2008

the Garden State Book Award (Children's Nonfiction) 2008


James M Deem

Copyright © 1988-2018 James M Deem. All Rights Reserved.

Prisoners of Breendonk by James M Deem