for Bog Child
by Siobhan Dowd
A taut, tightly plotted story is set principally in Northern Ireland in 1981, in the midst of the Troubles. Teenage Fergus is focused on earning grades that will get him into college and away from the strife that plagues his family and his country. Fergus’s brother, in jail as a terrorist, has decided to go on a hunger strike. Fergus, who runs regularly in the hills above town, is getting pressured to “do his part” for the cause and start leaving small packages in designated drop points. Fergus has no desire to get involved in terrorist action, but his contact offers hope that Fergus’s jailed brother could benefit from his willingness to help. On his runs, Fergus strikes up a friendship of sorts with the young Welsh soldier guarding the border—this “enemy,” Fergus realizes, is a kid just as trapped by circumstance as Fergus and others in his own town. Oddly, the one bright spot is the body Fergus discovers while stealing peat with his uncle from a bog just over the border. Two thousand years old, the remains have brought a scientist and her daughter to town. Fergus’s waking hours have him thinking about Cora, the scientist’s daughter, while his dreams are filled with scenes from the life of the Iron Age girl whose body he found—someone who seemed to live during another time of troubles that cast new light on his own. Rich, seamless storytelling illuminates the lives of characters during tense and challenging political times in Siobhan Dowd’s exceptional novel. Those characters are finely developed and skillfully revealed, sometimes in ways that surprise or even shock, in a story that finds both humor and hope in the midst of tragedy. (Age 14 and older)
CCBC Choices 2009. © Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2009. Used with permission.
Fergus McCann and his uncle regularly cross the border between the South, where they live, and Northern Ireland to illegally cut peat. Early one morning, Fergus discovers a perfectly preserved child buried in the bog. Archeologists arrive, one with her teenage daughter in tow. At the same time, Joe McCann, member of the provisional IRA, joins the hunger strike at Long Kesh prison. Fergus cannot fathom why his brother joined the IRA—and resists even though he’s being pressured to do so. Dowd has skillfully woven multiple plots into one mesmerizing tale of love, discovery, pain, and sacrifice. Other Young Adult books by Siobhan Dowd include A Swift Pure Cry (2007) and Solace of the Road (2009). 2009 USBBY Out standing International Books List, 2009 CILIP Carnegie Medal, 2008 Publish ers Weekly Best Children’s Book of the Year, 2008 Kirkus Reviews Best Young Adult Books. lmp
Originally published by David Fickling Books Great Britain, in 2008.
Bridges to Understanding: Envisioning the World through Children's Books. © USBBY, 2011. Used with permission.
DIGGING FOR PEAT in the mountain with his Uncle Tally, Fergus finds the body of a child, and it looks like she's been murdered. As Fergus tries to make sense of the mad world around him-his brother on hunger-strike in prison, his growing feelings for Cora, his parents arguing over the Troubles, and him in it up to the neck, blackmailed into acting as courier to God knows what-a little voice comes to him in his dreams, and the mystery of the bog child unfurls.
Bog Child is an astonishing novel exploring the sacrifices made in the name of peace, and the unflinching strength of the human spirit.
Publisher description retrieved from Google Books.