Author Lois Lowry explores the mystery of the Windeby Child, whose 2,000-year-old body parts were discovered by peat cutters in May 1952 in a bog in Germany. She captivates by combining history and story, alternating between the two.
In three sections, Lowry delineates the history of the Iron Age, the period in which the Windeby Child was determined to have lived, and the scientific process by which clues to the child’s identity unfolded. Lowry also explores the social strictures by which people lived, the harsh conditions they faced, and the religious practices that formed their existence.
As a storyteller, Lowry says, “I like to pry open doors, and peer into corners, and figure out all the whys that make people who they are. When I read for the first time about the Windeby Girl, I was consumed with curiosity. Who was this small-in-stature, middle school-age blonde person?” Though the Windeby Child was first thought to be a girl, scientists later determined that the child was a boy.
Lowry began to think of the Windeby Child’s life in terms of a jigsaw puzzle where one examines each piece, looking for ways to complete the whole picture. Lowry accomplishes this masterfully as, in two sections, she narrates the story of the Windeby Child, first as a girl named Estrild and then as a boy called Varick, each one out of step with their society’s norms and expectations.
Informative and emotionally gripping, this novel for children ages 10 and older offers a fascinating glimpse into a far-off age so vastly different from our own, yet so similar because the human need for love, compassion, home, and a chance to flourish transcends place and time. (Clarion Books)