Lundahl Middle School

Crystal Lake, Illinois



The final countdown to my visit!



Hello, Lundahl Lions! I visited you recently to talk about how exciting researching and writing can be.

First, I spoke to the eighth grade. I introduced you to my research process by taking you on a trip to the bogs of northern Europe.I explained how I first came across Lindow Man, a bog mummy who died over 2,000 years ago. I wasn't out in the bogs; I was just in the British Museum. I showed you how that discovery led to my research on bog bodies and eventually my book, Bodies from the Bog.

I finished my talk by discussing some of the research I did for my latest book, The Prisoners of Breendonk: Personal Histories from a World War II Concentration Camp. I showed you what this very unusual Belgian fort looked like and how the Nazis turned it into a concentration camp during World War II. Even though it was a small camp, with usually just a few hundred prisoners at a time, the prisoners suffered terribly.

For the sixth and seventh grades, I talked about how much fun I have researching and writing my books. But first I took you on a detour to my childhood and explained how I grew up to be a writer. I described how I got my first idea to write a book and how learning to write (and enjoy writing) research papers in middle school and high school was a great way to learn to write nonfiction books!

Then I explained how I research my books, using Bodies from the Ash: Life and Death in Ancient Pompeii as an example. I shared some of the stories archaeologists have told about Pompeii and why it is difficult to believe them (despite the good intentions of the archaeologists).


I also shared with you one of the most interesting experiences I've had doing research: my introduction to Senbi the Scribe at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. I explained how I find (and sometimes take) photographs and other images for my books, including the Mer de Glace, a glacier that was featured in my book, Bodies from the Ice: Melting Glaciers and the Recovery of the Past. Finally, I shared the story of Pearl from Colonial Albany, whose story is featured in a chapter of my book, Faces From the Past: Forgotten People of North America. Her skeleton was discovered accidentally during an excavation in downtown Albany, NY, and archaeologists worked with an artist to reconstruct her face as she would have looked when she was alive.

At the end of each session, you all asked excellent questions!


I also held a "Meet and Greet" with a group of students. We spent a half an hour talking more personally about writing and researching. It was a great session!

Finally, I want to thank your wonderful librarian, Mrs. Copeland as well as the students from Mrs. Green’s 8th grade extended curriculum language arts class, whose hard work this year as organizers of the Scholastic book fair funded my visit.