Shifting Sands by Kathy Lowinger
|June 10, 2014||Posted by admin under Ancient civilization, Historical Fiction, Young Readers|
Shifting Sands is a fictional tale of life in the time of Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad. The author presents three narratives that focus on three separate historical periods and religions. They are told from the perspective of three teens who grew up during a very tumultuous time in history and who faced challenging decisions centering on tribal bonds and power imbalances.
The first story deals with a young girl named Dina who works as a Hebrew slave for Egyptian Royalty. She is forced to choose between the “comforts” and familiarity of slavery and the uncertainty of following Moses through the dessert in search of the land of freedom. The second story focuses on Matten, a 14-year-old shepherd boy who helps his poor and struggling family during the time of Roman rule. After the death of his sister, Matten becomes restless and leaves home in hopes of finding a better life. He encounters Jesus along his journey, and, when he becomes a follower, his life changes forever. The final story introduces readers to Fallah who – along with his brother – flees from his home in the dessert to escape the bloody feud that killed his father. As a result, he finds himself condemned to life as an outsider until Muhammad offers him a different future.
Lowinger uses historical facts and her imagination to bring “Shifting Sands” to life. While she does incorporate the true accounts of Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad into each of the stories, she does so with quietness. The focus is really on what life may have been like for young people during those times. I appreciated the fact that I could relate to the historical significance – having learned about the biblical references in my upbringing – and found reading from a different perspective very interesting and unique. While the stories are fictional, they are still very plausible and may breathe new life into these historical times and serve as a reminder about the importance of these influential men.
The book also includes maps and notes that help with the historical context and full-page illustrations are used to introduce each story. All of these elements add a touch of relevance, engagement, and historical flavor for readers.
Shifting Sands would make a great school/library resource in terms of teaching about the history and culture of these time periods to school-aged children. It would also be of interest to those who enjoy learning/reading about history, religion, and ancient civilizations. I give it 3 stars.
To learn more about Shifting Sands, click here.