cover image Ballywhinney Girl

Ballywhinney Girl

Eve Bunting, illus. by Emily Arnold McCully. Clarion, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-547-55843-1

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.)