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Fergus knows if he is caught,
there will be big trouble. But he also knows they need the money
to live. So he and his uncle are in the bogs before daybreak cutting
peat. He can not know how his life is about to change. As he
is digging, he discovers her -- a young girl preserved in the bog.
Can she possibly be from the Iron Age of years ago? When the archaeologist
from Dublin arrives to take over the investigation, Fergus learns much
about his own life as well as the little mummy he names Mel.
Set against the theme of the 1980s hunger strikes, readers will also learn
about the troubled times Ireland.
Fergus is eighteen. He is a
bright student and he wants to get into a university in England. That is
the next step for him on his way to becoming a doctor. To take that step,
Fergus must get high grades in the competitive Advanced-Level exams, which
are much like our SAT and ACT exams.
Fergus lives in a dreary,
run down, economically depressed little Northern Ireland town. Everyone
scrambles to make a living, working more than one job or having some money-making
scheme on the side. As the story of the bog child begins, Fergus accompanies
his uncle on a little adventure to earn a little cash. They drive out of
town before dawn. They cross through a military border check point into
the Republic of Ireland and, after a long drive on unpaved roads in the
hills, stop beside a huge peat cutting machine (referred to as a JCB).
Dried peat moss is used as fuel in Ireland. It can easily be exchanged
for cash. This peat belongs to someone, however. Fergus and his uncle are
poaching. They must work quickly, leave before the JCB operators arrive
to begin their dayís work, and smuggle the peat back through the boarder
check point into Northern Ireland without being caught. Fergus and his
uncle work down in the ditch dug by the JCB. One cuts small slabs of peat
from the wall of the ditch with a narrow spade while the other places the
slabs of peat in a sack. Something odd in the wall of the ditch attracts
Fergusís attention. His heart leaps to his throat when he realizes it is
the body of a girl. The JCB had cut very close, shearing away part of a
leg as it did, and it left the body exposed to view. The machine operators
must not have seen the body. What should Fergus and his uncle do? Was this
a crime scene? How would they report this to the authorities without getting
caught in their poaching? Who could the girl be? (Rhode
Island Teen Book Award nominee, 2010)