BLACKWATER BEN

William Durbin, Author . Random/Lamb $15.95 (199p) ISBN 978-0-385-72928-4

Durbin (The Broken Blade ) introduces readers to a logger's life in 1898 Minnesota, in a narrative that is alternately interesting and labored. Ben and his father, the logging camp's cook, stay at the boarding house of kind widow Mrs. Wilson, who helped raise Ben. Through slice-of-life scenes of endless hard work and routine, readers learn that Ben has dropped out of seventh grade to help his curmudgeonly father ("There ain't no man that ever done something so special that he deserved every seventh day off"), and that Ben's father wasn't the first to court his mother. One of her other suitors works in the camp and helps Ben grow closer to her memory. The episodic nature of the book, with its string of small encounters hung upon the frame of Ben's search for answers, will make for interesting reading to those with an interest in the setting, but others may grow weary of the details. Some memorable scenes include the generosity shown by the rough-and-tumble loggers to a pair of nuns on a charity mission and a genuinely touching moment in which Ben's father finally becomes willing to talk about his wife. Ages 10-up. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 12/22/2003
Release date: 11/01/2003
Genre: Children's
Prebound-Sewn - 208 pages - 978-1-4177-1308-0
Prebound-Glued - 199 pages - 978-0-7569-5646-2
Prebound-Sewn - 978-0-606-33977-3
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