Maeve and her grandpa find an Irish bog mummy when they are out cutting peat.
Young Maeve narrates the story in free verse that incorporates dialogue. The dialect is lyrical and captures the astonishment of the girl and her grandfather, who first believe they have found a murdered child, followed by awe when they are told it is a mummy: “I gasped. / A girl! / A girl like me, a thousand years ago / dead and dropped into this quiet place. / Who was she? / What had happened?” Despite a promise from the archaeologists to share all they learn, Maeve is uneasy when they take the mummy from the site. A police sergeant later visits, providing an update with scanty details about the mummy, belying the abilities of modern archaeological techniques and possibly disappointing youngsters excited to learn about the past. Enough information is presented so that Maeve identifies even more closely with the long-ago girl, increasing her ambivalence about the discovery. Indeed Bunting, in an afterword, recounts the history of finds, stating that while some were handled with respect, others were treated as curiosities. McCully uses watercolor with pen and ink to create a moody landscape that reflects Maeve’s musings, including her final, fanciful vision of the girl walking on the bog.
To balance this perspective, pair this with Mummies, Bones, and Body Parts, by Charlotte Wilcox (2000). (Picture book. 6-10)