11,000 Years Lost

Written by Peni R. Griffin
Review by Nancy Flinn Ludwin


In this time-travel story set during the Pleistocene era, 11-year-old Esther inadvertently walks into another dimension while at an archaeological dig on her Texas playground. When she hears two oddly-dressed girls speaking gibberish, she approaches them, and they bring her into their clan. The clan receives her with suspicion at first, but slowly Esther adapts to their migrating lifestyle. She fears for her safety, as her fate lies in hands of the clan families. Although Esther attempts to return to her own time period, she initially fails. To her surprise, she discovers that personality conflicts, jealousy, and power struggles existed even in this earlier time.

The author crafts a language based on guttural sounds, which makes the book difficult to follow. Fortunately, a dictionary, site map, and family tree are included. In addition, there are too many characters and different families to keep track of, and some characters appear only briefly. However, the novel’s strong point is its accurately researched historical data. Griffin convincingly portrays the intimate day-by-day existence of a people who survive by hunting, foraging for food, and building shelters against the elements. The novel details the trials and tribulations of the clan’s existence, as well as its restrictive yet necessary gender distinctions.

The author writes vivid, imaginative scenes full of her world’s sights, sounds and smells: “The sky brightened, pink and green and yellow, above a world that still overwhelmed Esther’s senses – so many birds, flowers, animals – so few traces of people. The moans and mumbles of mammoths rolled like bass line of music across the soprano of the morning birds.”

Overall, this is a good story about a prehistoric time not often written about. Ages 9-12.