Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Water Seeker by Kimberly Willis Holt
Young Amos Kincaid doesn't know his father well since he is gone trapping for many months each year. He learns how to work hard from his aunt and uncle and his closest neighbors, after his aunt dies. When is father finally returns with a squaw, Blue Owl, for a wife, Amos is forced to learn new skills when he moves with them. One of those skills is a skill that his father also has, dowsing. When an opportunity to help guide a Wagon Train to Oregon Territory arrives, the family picks up again. Along the treacherous 2000 mile journey Amos has many adventures and makes several friends.
Amos' mother, who died during childbirth, and birds played symbolic roles in the book, but the symbolism was lost on me. I hate it when I don't see the meaning in literary devices used by authors. Though this book came to my attention as a possible Printz award candidate I think this book is really a middle level book, not one that would interest too many high school students. The drama hinted at on the book jacket about the conflict between father and son about being a dowser seemed quite mild. Though the journey across the prairie and mountains on a Wagon Train was well done, it didn't have the level of suspense or fast-pacing that most YA readers crave. Perhaps this book would be a better Newbery candidate.
Though this review isn't very strong, I really did like the story. I think younger teens who like reading historical fiction will find a lot to like in this story.