________________ CM . . . . Volume XXI Number 5. . . .October 3, 2014


Bone Deep. (A Peggy Henderson Adventure).

Gina McMurchy-Barber.
Toronto, ON: Dundurn, 2014.
176 pp., trade pbk., PDF & EPub, $12.99 (pbk.), 12.99 (PDF), $8.99 (Epub).
ISBN 978-1-4597-1401-4 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4597-1403-8 (EPub), ISBN 978-1-4597-1402-1 (PDF).

Grades 5-10 / Ages 10-15.

Review by Daphne Hamilton-Nagorsen.

*** /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



Aunt Beatrix went on for another ten minutes, telling me how cobalt blue first came from Persia, that it was the kaolin clay found in China that gave porcelain its translucent quality, and that all the decorations were hand painted – which explained why there were small differences in each plate. She finally stopped after grinding in the fact that porcelain china made in the emperor’s Imperial factory had a nian hao – a Chinese date mark – painted on the bottom. There were only a small number of painters who had this job, so their style could be recognized like individualized handwriting.

So it was – night after night it was either a history lesson or what Aunt Beatrix liked to call practical life lessons. Like learning to polish the silver, make fruit preserves, and knit. Once supper was over and the dishes washed and put away the rest of the evening was mine. That’s when I read about diving, or the history of the Pacific fur trade, or underwater archaeology – things I really cared about. I especially enjoyed reading Captain Whittaker’s diary.

In the back of my mind I was also trying to figure out when it would be the perfect moment to pop the question about going with Dr. Hunter to find the Intrepid. Timing for this was everything – which is why I bad to make sure I had stored up enough brownie points. That’s where Aunt Beatrix came in. I figured it was impossible for Mom not to have noticed how cooperative I was being with the cranky old history professor. After all, the agony of being her improvement project had to be worth something – something real big.


Peggy Henderson is finding life stressful at home. Her great-aunt has come for a visit, which results in Peggy getting in more trouble then usual for her behaviour, as well as for breaking the family’s good china. Great-aunt Beatrix also wants Peggy to act more like a young lady and less like a tomboy, which doesn’t go over well with Peggy. After a field trip to the Vancouver Maritime Museum, Peggy becomes interested in underwater archaeology and does everything possible to get scuba diving lessons and to go on a research trip to find a sunken ship. Peggy’s age and behaviour cause problems aboard the ship, and she must find a way to make things right and regain the trust of her shipmates.

     Bone Deep is the third book in the “Peggy Henderson” adventure series by Gina McMurchy-Barber, the first two books being Reading the Bones and Broken Bones. Peggy gained an interest in archaeology in the first book after digging up a skull in her aunt’s backyard, and this interest continues in the third book, expanding to include marine archaeology.

     As with the other books, Gina McMurchy-Barber weaves a second narration through the story that relates to the archaeological subject that Peggy is interested in. In this book, it is the story of Captain Whittaker and his ship, the Intrepid. The narrative style allows Gina McMurchy-Barber to include the historical background to the Intrepid in the book while making it very interesting and entertaining to readers. The narrative style also helps draw the reader further into the story and provides short breaks from the modern-day events.

     As with the previous books in the series, the pace of the story is excellent. The story moves along steadily, but slowly enough, for readers to follow and appreciate the events, as well as the historical and archaeological information presented.

     The main character, Peggy, is well-written, and many readers will identify with her. In some respects, she does tend to act older than her age of 12, but her exact age is not the most important aspect of her character. In Bone Deep, Peggy has to learn some important lessons about honesty and responsibility, whether she likes it or not. Some readers may cringe as Peggy gets herself into trouble again and again, but the resolution of Peggy’s troubles is well done and requires Peggy, herself, to make the situation right again. The lessons that Peggy learns are ones that will be important and understandable to all readers.

     Bone Deep is another good story from Gina McMurchy-Barber, one that is both educational and entertaining. Peggy Henderson will appeal to a wide variety of readers and should continue to interest readers in local history and archaeology as they follow Peggy’s adventures. The amount of research that Gina McMurchy-Barber does for her books and her own interest in archaeology shines throughout the story, even in the small details.

     Bone Deep is a highly entertaining story that seamlessly blends archaeology with family, responsibility and honesty into another great adventure.


Daphne Hamilton-Nagorsen is a graduate of the School of Library, Archival and Information Studies at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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