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Added on 15th June 2020

Author Siobhan Dowd
First published 2008
Publisher David Fickling Books

A young adult coming of age novel set in Ireland in the 1980s.

Story

Fergus lives in Ireland in the 1980s, during the Troubles. Not only does he have normal teenage problems to deal with – A-levels, quarrelling parents, his confusing feelings for his friend Cora – but also a brother who is on hunger strike in prison. One day, Fergus is digging in the mountains with his uncle when they find what seems to be the body of a young girl. But nothing is as it seems, and this ‘bog child’ is actually 2,000 years old…

Why we chose it

A beautifully written story from a powerful storyteller which mixes a modern coming of age story with the story of an Iron Age girl to explore themes of peace and conflict, loyalty and sacrifice.

Where it came from

Siobhan Dowd (1960-2007) was a British children’s writer and human rights activist. Although she was brought up in London, her parents were Irish and she often visited Ireland with her family, and she was inspired by the 1981 Irish hunger strike to write Fergus’ story. Having read a book by Danish archaeologist P. V. Glob, and watched an episode of the BBC show Timewatch, about recent discoveries of Iron Age people found preserved in Irish bogs, Dowd was really interested in these prehistoric people and was inspired by learning about them to imagine what their lives might have been like.

Where it went next

Sadly, Dowd died before Bog Child was published, but the book was a huge success, winning numerous awards. She became the first author to win the CILIP Carnegie Medal, the UK’s biggest prize for children’s writing, after her death. Just after finishing the book, and in the last few days of her life, Dowd set up the Siobhan Dowd Trust, which uses the money from her books to help bring the joy of reading to children and young people.

Associated stories

Other books for children and teenagers by Dowd include A Swift Pure Cry (2006), The London Eye Mystery (2007), and Solace of the Road (2009). There have also been several adaptations of Dowd’s unfinished work. Patrick Ness adapted her story outline to create A Monster Calls (2011), which also won the Carnegie Medal and has been made into a film. Robin Stevens, author of the hugely popular Murder Most Unladylike series, wrote a sequel to The London Eye Mystery called The Guggenheim Mystery in 2017. Two more of Dowd’s short stories have also been made into illustrated books, The Pavee and the Buffer Girl, illustrated by Emma Shoard and The Ransom of Dond illustrated by Pam Smy.

Added on 15th June 2020

Author Siobhan Dowd
First published 2008
Publisher David Fickling Books