LOW TIDE by William Mayne


Age Range: 10 - 14
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 The ever-challenging Carnegie winner turns to New Zealand for an action-packed story that, as a colonial adventure involving new settlers and indigenous people, recalls the themes and limitations of Drift (1986): the locale and Maori are generic; but the elegantly described events, many verging on fantastical, elevate universal strivings and concerns to almost mythic stature. Charlie, his little sister Elisabeth (``Liss''), and his Maori classmate Wiremu venture onto the empty ocean floor after an earthquake to explore a long-submerged ship. A tidal wave sweeps the vessel, and them, beyond the inaccessible mountain they've seen from their home in Jade Bay, reputed to harbor the fierce, mysterious ``Koroua.'' Indeed, they meet him: a crippled ancient who feeds them and gradually wins their trust, though he doesn't know their language; together, they make their way back to Jade Bay, only to find it a ruin of long standing. On the Koroua's instruction, the boys leave him and Liss, return to the ship, and--in perilous stages--get it down a river to an intact, present-day (i.e., 1892) Jade Bay, where Charlie's parents are horrified to see him without Liss and incredulous of his story. Readers who persist through the exquisitely mapped (but not always easy to follow) adventure will be well rewarded with the unraveling of several mysteries, involving two sunken ships and more than one reunion. More compactly composed than Drift, a poetic, genuinely childlike view of a simpler world where prejudice can be dispelled by familiarity, and by the truth. A fine readaloud for sophisticated listeners. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: March 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-385-30904-X
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: Delacorte
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1993


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