SURREY — Gina McMurchy-Barber is bringing her passion for archeology to the pages of books aimed at young readers.
The Surrey author has written four books in a “Bones” series that follows the adventures of Peggy Henderson, a preteen who digs studying past human activity.
McMurchy-Barber has a degree in archeology and was once given a Governor General’s Award for excellence in teaching Canadian history.
She teaches part-time at a Montessori school in Coquitlam and also tours to schools and libraries wearing an “Indiana Gina” getup.
“I’ve met and talked to a thousand or more kids with a trunkload of props,” McMurchy-Barber told the Now. “I come dressed in a fedora hat and with archeology tools, and I talk about techniques, the language. Those are interactive readings.”
The book series is filled with equal amounts of humour and history lessons, along with a good amount of suspense.
The author’s latest paperback is “A Bone to Pick,” which sees the protagonist unearth the remains of a brave young warrior at a Viking settlement at L’Anse aux Meadows National Park in Newfoundland.
First in the series was “Reading the Bones,” deemed a national bestseller after its 2008 release. The book, a Silver Birch Award finalist set in Crescent Beach, was followed by “Broken Bones,” which takes place in Golden, B.C., and “Bone Deep,” set on Vancouver Island.
“The four books take place over the span of about a year, so I’ve allowed Peggy to turn from age 12 to around 13,” McMurchy-Barber said with a laugh.
The books are aimed at readers in that intermediate, Grade-4-to-7 range, she said.
“It’s doing quite well,” she said of the series, published by the Dundurn company based in Toronto.
“The nice thing I get complimented on is that you don’t have to read them in order, that they’re stand-alone novels.
“‘Reading the Bones’ remains the most popular of the books,” she added, “and last year it was selected as a Readings Link Challenge books, which means it was one of six books in the Fraser Valley library system that kids read as part of a challenge they do, kind of a ‘Reach for the Top’ contest.”
This Saturday (Nov. 28) starting at 11 a.m., McMurchy-Barber and fellow author Lois Peterson will talk about writing for young people at a session held at White Rock Library.
McMurchy-Barber’s website is Ginabooks.com.