cover image The Windeby Puzzle: History and Story

The Windeby Puzzle: History and Story

Lois Lowry, illus. by Jonathan Stroh. Clarion, $16.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-358672-50-0

Alternating via five sections between conversational history and evocative storytelling, Newbery Medalist Lowry creates a contemplative narrative around an Iron Age bog body found in northern Germany. A factual introduction describes the 1952 discovery of the 2,000-year-old body, Lowry’s fascination with the “small-in-stature, middle school–age blond person” called the Windeby Girl, and the author’s assembling known facts into a narrative to “solve the puzzle” of the figure’s story. The first resultant telling centers 13-year-old Estrild, who longs to become the first female warrior in her Iron Age community and secretly practices warrior chants with her friend, budding naturalist Varick. A subsequent historical section reveals a recently discovered detail about the body, leading to a second fictional reimagining of the story involving Varick. In this brief, evocative work that examinines the past through a meta lens, a vividly sketched portrayal emphasizes the community’s rigid gender roles and rhythms of daily life amid the natural world. Occasional art by Stroh links the sections with a recurring motif. Includes a bibliography, discussion questions, and b&w photographs. Ages 10–up. Agent: Emily van Beek, Folio Literary. (Feb.)