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by A. LaFaye

Age Range: 9 - 12

Pub Date: April 7th, 2009
ISBN: 978-1-57131-687-5
Publisher: Milkweed

Eleven-year-old Kyna is terrified of all kinds of water; even a barrel of water for apple-bobbing can cause a panic attack. As a young girl, she watched her family perish in the sea and she has never gotten over her fear. Her adoptive Irish parents, full of stories of “silkies” (oddly enough not rendered as “selkies”) and leprechauns, love everything about water and hope to get her to take “water steps” to overcome her fear. Against her wishes, they rent a house on Lake Champlain for the summer. It is during this summer when Kyna learns that the Irish tales hold clues to her parents’ mysterious history. It’s doubtful that child readers will be surprised by Kyna’s discoveries, as the narrative telegraphs the ending from the very beginning. How seals and “silkies” are supposed to be living in a freshwater lake that has no history of seals is not explained, nor is any mention made of the Champ, the mythological creature purported to live in Champlain. LaFaye’s intentions are noble—overcoming fears is something that middle graders must do—but the execution is predictable and muddled. (Fantasy. 9-12)