Reviews for Ballywhinney Girl

Booklist Reviews 2012 February #2
There is drama from the first page of this moving picture book. In the bog near Maeve's Irish village, she and her grandfather find a girl's corpse that has been preserved like a mummy for nearly 1,000 years. While archaeologists conduct tests, and TV screens show images of "the dark dead face," Maeve does not like to think of the body on display in a museum. How did the girl die? Did she fall into the bog on her way to school? Were there schools back then? There are no lurid details in Bunting's graceful first-person, free-verse narrative: "I saw her dawdling along the lanes / the way I do." McCully's beautiful pen-and-ink and watercolor pictures show Maeve out on the bog on a moonlit night, imagining a girl like herself haunting the place "where long ago she fell." Readers will want the long afterword, too, about the biology of peat as a preservative and more amazing science stories, including the more than 80 mummies that have been found in Irish bogs. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2012 Fall
Maeve's grandpa unearths a mummy--common in Ireland, where (a note says) scores of remains have been found. Maeve's uneasiness at the find turns to empathy for the long-ago girl who, like her, had blond hair. McCully's masterful pen-and-ink lines capture Maeve's feelings; watercolors evoke the lush countryside. This is a sensitive opening to the universal theme of curiosity about death.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2012 #2
Maeve is watching her grandpa cut turf for their kitchen fire when he unearths "a dead boy buried in the bog. Murdered maybe." Not so; knowledgeable local police send to Dublin for a team of archaeologists, who confirm that this is a mummy, perhaps a thousand years old -- no rare thing in Ireland, where (according to a note) scores of such remains have been found. Still, this fictional one (a girl, it turns out) causes a stir of publicity as she's taken away to be researched. Meanwhile, Maeve's initial uneasiness at the find becomes empathy for the long-ago girl who, like Maeve, had blond hair and who was buried with blue lupin and wild roses; though her body now lies in the museum, in Maeve's imagination she still walks on the moonlit bog she loved. McCully captures the excitement and the subtler succession of Maeve's feelings in masterfully scribbled lines of pen and ink and evokes the Irish countryside in lush watercolor, an unspoiled sweep of shades of green under an ever-changing sky. The tender, gently elegiac tone renders this far more than a picture of how such finds happen: Maeve's thoughtful curiosity and gentle concern about this distant death makes an unusually sensitive opening to that universal theme. joanna rudge long Copyright 2012 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2012 January #2
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) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 January #1

In a haunting outing that treads on perhaps even more chilling turf than Bunting and McCully's previous collaboration, The Banshee (2009), the author whisks readers to the expansive countryside of her native Ireland. It's there, in a peat bog, that young Maeve and her grandfather make a startling discovery: the ancient mummified remains of a girl. Drama and suspense dovetail as the family and authorities follow procedures and come to grips with the significance of what they've found. "I wasn't sure exactly how I felt," Maeve thinks. "There was fear/ and curiosity,/ but there was more./ Something I could not/ put my name to." McCully's watercolor-and-ink compositions offer a front-row seat to the proceedings, though readers get just a few glimpses of the mummy. Maeve's delicately drawn face tells a tale all its own, filled with shock, concern, and sadness as she explores the connection she feels to the mummified girl. Though not for sensitive children, this memento mori has much to offer readers who are up to the challenge. An afterword provides information on the (fictional) story's real-life inspiration. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2012 February

Gr 1-4--An evocative story in verse narrated by a young girl who witnesses the unearthing of a centuries-old mummified girl in a bog in Ballywhinney, Ireland. The muted green and blue hues and smudgy effects of the watercolor illustrations complement the marshy setting, while the lyrical narrative sets the melancholy tone. Frequent use of dialogue with sprinklings of Irish vernacular ("Jakers!") brings the story to life. Readers will easily relate to Maeve, who, determined to be a part of the discovery, emphasizes to a policeman that she and her grandfather were responsible for the find, not the archaeologists who showed up soon after. Visible paint strokes expertly convey Maeve's feelings of curiosity, confusion, and sorrow as she watches scientists uproot the body amid a media frenzy. The images of the mummy are subtlely handled; readers catch a few glimpses of arms, legs, a face, and finally the body itself in a museum exhibit. However, Maeve's musings about whether the Ballywhinney girl is content to be on display and references to her "dark, dead face" may still be upsetting to sensitive readers. Depictions of what the girl may have looked like when she was alive, paired with Bunting's haunting text, humanize her and let the story end on a more positive note. An afterword provides information about the Irish wetlands where actual ancient bodies have been dug up. A perceptive portrayal of a potentially disturbing subject.--Mahnaz Dar, formerly at Convent of the Sacred Heart, New York City

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