April 28, 2014

The Water Castle by Megan Frazer Blakemore

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 1:10 am by suebe2

The Water Castle
by Megan Frazer Blakemore
Walker Books for Young Readers

What do you believe?  Who can you believe?  Can two seemingly contradictory stories be true?

Ephraim Appledore wants to believe that his father is going to get better.  After all, that’s why they’re living in the Water Castle.

A long ago Appledore built the strange castle-looking home while simultanteously looking for the Fountain of Youth.  In fact, the family money came from sales a water tonic that promised to fix anything for anyone.  What if Ephraim could find a bottle of this cure-all for his father?

Before the stroke, his father was an artist.  Now he just sits.  He can’t paint.  He can’t speak. Sometimes he can’t even swallow without choking.  Its all too much for Ephraim who turns his attention to remaking himself in their new home.

He’s determined to be the smart city-boy in this tiny Maine town.  What he doesn’t count on is the amazing powers of the town itself.  Everyone here is faster than normal, even Ephraim’s brother is a better athlete than ever, setting records even againt the local stars.  As if that wasn’t bad enough, everyone here is smarter too including Ephraim’s younger sister.

Ephraim, on the other hand, is still just Ephraim, and he’s caught in a place he doesn’t understand.  Why does Will Wylie seem to hate him as soon as he knows who Ephraim is? And why is no one surprised by this?  And what’s up with Mallory?  As Ephraim learns the town history, he learns that the Wylie’s tried to bottle the Fountain of Youth too.  They blame the Appledores for their poverty.  Mallory’s family were assistants, or servants depending on who you ask, to the Appledores.  She wants no part of that life.

But soon the three find themselves working to solve the secrets behind the Appledore fortune.  Where did the water come from?  Will it actually grant eternal life?  Little by little, they piece together how three seemingly different stories could all be true and how, in spite of history and people’s expectations, they can all be friends.

Part science, part fantasy and part mystery this is a fun adventure for middle grade readers.  With the different personalities of the three friends, Blakemore has created a group of characters to appeal to a wide variety of readers.  Ephraim take the part of “every boy,” an good enough student with a curious mind and a drive to make things better for his father so that life can be like it was.  Will is nothing short of brilliant but insecure because of his family’s poverty.  Mallory doesn’t want to believe because doing so could mean tying herself to a past she doesn’t want.

Belief and disbelief struggle in a mysterious tale that ends with a somewhat ambigious ending . . . depending on what the reader believes.

–SueBE

 

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