links image map Newbery Books Caldecott Books C.S. King Books Ages 9 Up  Tweens Young Adult Baby / Pre K Picture Books Special Collection / Poetry Fairy Tales Bully Books History / Social Studies Black History Women in History Native American Science and Math Nature Nature Links Educational / Homework Language Arts Art and Games Music and Dance ETC Outreach News I Want to Contribute ETC Newsletter Home Page Search Site Email ETC Welcome to Embracing the Child
Peter Lourie
Exploring the Mysteries of Chaco Canyon

The Lost World of the Anasazi: Exploring the Canyons of Chaco Canyon

More than one thousand years ago, a people known as the Anasazi lived in the North American Southwest. They produced pottery, baskets, and cloth, and engaged in trade. They were master builders and erected magnificent structures. Then in the last half of the thirteenth century, something mysterious happened. The Anasazi walked away from their world and vanished into history. But why?

One place to look for clues is in northwestern New Mexico, among the ruins of Chaco Canyon. The discovery of a network of roads leading to the canyon have led some archaeologists to believe that this may have been the very center of the Anasazi universe. But what drew them to this hot, dry canyon?

Peter Lourie takes us on a journey to the land of the ancient Pueblos. With veteran archaeologist Gwinn Vivian as his guide, Lourie travels the desert Southwest and finds a land as mysterious as the Anasazi themselves.

Ages 9-12
[Anasazi Heritage Center Museum] [Lesson Plan]

A Journey to the End of the Earth

Tierra del Fuego

Ferdinand Magellan was searching the new world for a passage to the Pacific Ocean and the riches of the East. His quest took him down the coast of South America, where he battled raging seas, put down a mutiny, and encountered exotic people. The expedition seemed doomed to failure until Magellan spied a waterway heading west. Sailing his ships onward, he passed through ominous land, where smoke from unseen fires rose high in the air. He called the land Tierra del Fuego, or "land of fire".

Peter Lourie takes young readers on a journey to the island at the end of the earth that for centuries was shrouded in mystery. It was here Magellan found his passage to the Pacific, the Strait of Magellan, and later Charles Darwin sailed the legendary Beagle. Joshua Slocum, who sailed the globe alone, outwitted pirates that lurked in coves and channels. This remarkable land, filled with history and adventure, has undergone dramatic changes over the decades. Sheep and cattle farms now cover the land. Ushuaia, the southernmost city on earth, now has a thriving fishing and tourist industry. But despite these changes, there is still breathtaking beauty. There are still wild winds and cresting waves that have bedeviled sailors since Magellan. Tierra del Fuego remains a land of mystery.

Ages 9-12

Uncovering the Lost City of Palenque

The ancient Maya created one of the greatest civilizations of the New World. They built more than fifty powerful city-states during the Classic period, which lasted for six hundred years. Then, around A.D. 900, the Maya mysteriously abandoned their cities and temples. Even today scientists cannot fully explain their disappearance. Peter Lourie now takes readers to the heart of the Mexican jungle to explore the secrets of the Maya ruins. In the ancient city of Palenque, he encounters moths as big as bats, monkeys that roar like lions, and a venomous snake whose bite is an almost certian death sentence.

Ages 7 Up

[Cities of the Ancient Maya]

[The Science Museum of Minnesota - Maya Adventure - highlights science activities and information related to ancient and modern Maya culture.


On the Trail of Sacagawea

Ages 8 Up

Lewis and Clark Expedition
Learn more about Sacagawea

Peter his own words.

I suppose it all began with a love of collecting rocks when I was ten years old. Also in the fourth grade, I fell in love with studying ancient civilizations like Egypt and Mesopotamia.Peter LourieI wanted to be an archaeologist working in distant lands. I dreamed of excavating ancient cities in Europe and digging for prehistoric bones in Africa. The mystery of distant places and the distant past excited me more than anything in a boy's life. And now, as an adventure writer, with my readers I get to share some of those explorations and mysteries, especially the excitement of traveling. For me, that mystery often begins on the bank of a river.

Every writer needs a story. The story that first excited me and made me want to write a book was the story of a lost Inca treasure buried five hundred years ago in the Andes Mountains of Ecuador. I began my writing career exploring this subject. I was actually in Ecuador studying monkeys. I'd planned to be an anthropologist, but quite by accident I met a treasure hunter who had been looking for the treasure of Quito (valued in today's money at about five billion dollars) for thirty-five years, and I stayed up all one night listening to his stories of death-defying adventures in a strange and foggy region of the Andes. The next morning I decided to go looking for the gold and to keep a record of my search. I gave up plans to be an anthroplogist, and I lived for five years in South America, researching and writing about this seven-hundred-ton Inca treasure in the cloud forest of Ecuador.

The adult version of the story is called Sweat of the Sun, Tears of the Moon: A Chronicle of an Incan Treasure.

I decided that children would love this story, too, so I wrote Lost Treasure of the Inca. It was this story that sealed my fate. I knew I had to write about other subjects, other adventures, other mysteries, and I started writing full time.

I began publishing children's books with Boyds Mills Press in 1991. My first book was Amazon: A Young Reader's Look at the Last Frontier. After that I went on to write quite a few river and adventure books. Many of these are nonfiction, but today I'm working on my second novel, and I hope to write more novels as the years pass.

When I'm in the field or on a river, I take notes with tape recorders. Later I transcribe those notes onto the page. In the field, I also love to take my own photographs. I relish the feel of the camera in my hands, and I enjoy interviewing people while I take their pictures. The reason I may have the best job in the world is that on every adventure I see new sights and learn new history. On each journey, whether it is a canoe trip along the entire length of the Erie Canal or whether it's a grueling trek through the Mexican jungles of Chiapas for a book about the Maya city of Palenque, I meet interesting people who have many stories to tell.

I've worked on many children's books about rivers. I even wrote another adult book about one of my trips. River of Mountains: A Canoe Journey Down the Hudson is a travelogue about my trip canoeing the entire length of the Hudson River (no one had ever done it before). The children's book on the subject is shorter but has color photos.

I will continue to make my journeys to write nonfiction books, but I also want to move gradually into more fiction. I'm working on my second novel now. The first was The Lost Treasure of Captain Kidd. (You see, I can't escape my love of treasure subjects.) The novel I'm working today returns to the subject of the Incas. I can't escape! Joseph Conrad, the great novelist, once wrote: "There's no getting away from a treasure that once fastens upon your mind."

Peter visits schools throughout the United States to share his love of adventure and reading with students. During his school presentations, Peter often tells students that rivers are the veins of history. "When I travel rivers, I'm learning history firsthand," he says, adding that he first fell in love with canoeing as a twelve-year-old at canoe camp in Ontario, Canada. Years later, when a Peace Corps worker told him that the burning of the rain forest was the story of the century, Peter teamed up with Latin American friends who were documenting the devastation of the jungle, and he traveled the upper Amazon Territory of Rondonia, Brazil, in 1979.

Visit Peter Lourie's Web Site

EVERGLADES: Buffalo Tiger and the River of Grass

Everglades: Buffalo Tiger and the River of Grass

The Florida Everglades is a huge river of razor-sharp sawgrass that flows one hundred miles from Lake Okeechobee to the Gulf of Mexico. With its stark beauty and abundance of birds andother wildlife, the Everglades is one of the world's ecological treasures. Buth this bright spot on the planet faces an uncertain future. Peter Lourie takes readers into what the Miccosukee Indians call Pa-hay-okee, or the "Grassy Water." His guide is Buffalo Tiger, former chief of the Miccosukees, who provides the unique perspective of a Native American whose people are historically linked to the Everglades.

Ages 8-11

More books by Peter Lourie
Arctic Thaw: The People of the Whale in a Changing Climate
The Manatee Scientists (Ages 9-12) [John Reynolds does an aerial count of manatees from the Florida sky; Lucy Keith spends a weekend rescuing manatees trapped in a dam in Senegal; and Fernando Rosas takes the author on an Amazonian boat trip, looking for a young manatee he released back into the wild, with emotional results. These scientists are working hard to save manatees: docile, large sea mammals who are eaten in some parts of the world, feared in others, and adored in still others. But factors such as human encroachment, disease, environmental hazards, and being hunted are causing their numbers to decline: they are an endangered species, in need of help.]

The Polar Bear Scientists - It is springtime on the North Slope of Alaska, and the U.S. Geological Survey team—the polar bear biologists Kristin Simac and Mike Lockhart—is gearing up for polar bear capturing. During a capture, all information is collected on the sea ice. The scientists locate bears from a helicopter, tranquilize them, give them tattoo ID numbers and tags, and collect data such as height, weight, and body fat measurements and samples such as blood, hair, feces, and even teeth. All this information goes into a large database studied by scientists such as Drs. Steven Amstrup and George Durner, the former and current leaders of the Polar Bear Research Project. For more than forty years, scientists have been capturing bears in order to get information. What has this information been telling scientists about polar bears and global warming? Ages 9 and up. (2012)

MISSISSIPPI RIVER: A Journey Down the Father of Waters

Ages 9-12

AMAZON: A Young Reader's Look at the Last Frontier

Ages 9-12


Lost Treasure of the Inca

Ages 8-12

ERIE CANAL: Canoeing America's Great Waterway

Erie Canal