The Skull in the Rock: How a Scientist, a Boy, and Google Earth Opened a New Window on Human Origins


  • Science related title
  • Age Range: Grades 4-6
  • Author: Lee R. Berger & Marc Aronson
  • Title: The Skull in the Rock: How a Scientist, a Boy, and Google Earth Opened a New Window on Human Origins
  • Publisher: Washington, D.C. :, National Geographic
  • 2012
  • 64 pages.
  • ISBN: 978-1-4263-1010-2
  • Awards: AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prizes for Excellence in Science Books, 2014 Finalist, Children’s Middle Grades Books ~CCBC’s Book of Choice 2013~Richie’s Picks
  • Authors’ website: and, companion website to the book

Speaking directly to the child-reader Aronson traces the career of a dynamic paleoanthropologist: Lee Berger, and captures the excitement of scientific discovery as Berger uncovers some of the oldest and most astonishingly complete human ancestors ever found, including the newly discovered Australopithecus sediba.

The Skull in the Rock is part biography, part fossil discovery story and part exhortation to kids to develop observational skills and make discoveries. It tells an exciting tale of exploration fueled by theories and insights. I found the interactive tone of directly addressing questions and remarks to the child reader to be distracting, but can see it could be very effective for younger children age 10-12. The science is explained well and the large photographs add interest and break the text into digestible chunks.

Front and back matter include contents, a schematic of hominid evolution, suggestions for further reading, a glossary/index and an author’s note. The authors pledge to maintain a website that keeps current with the science and discoveries associated with the Australopithecus sediba fossil at the center of the story. A link is provided.


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