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Gr 4-7-Eleven-year-old Kyna must go to Lake Champlain with her adoptive parents, Mem and Pep, for summer vacation. But she is terrified of water because she witnessed the drowning of her family when she was a young child. Mem and Pep, who saved her, have helped her take "water steps" over the years to overcome her fear. This summer, they want her to take her final step. At the same time, they have a secret to reveal. Upset at the thought of spending the summer near water, Kyna sets out to make the best of it. She befriends Tylo, a fellow vacationer. He tells her he has seen silkies in the lake and wants to get a photograph of them to prove it to others. Kyna tells him there is no such thing, though Mem and Pep believe in them. As the story progresses, Kyna puts together clues about her parents to figure out their secret, though she doesn't want to believe it. Told from Kyna's point of view, the story ends with a neat resolution, and the engaging writing style flows smoothly and is well paced. The language is almost poetic with its use of sensory detail, alliteration, and precise word choices. A satisfying story of overcoming one's fears and discovering secrets.-Jennifer D. Montgomery, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
Realistic fiction takes an unexpected turn into fantasy in LaFaye's (Worth) lyrical exploration of a girl coping with her fear of water. Eleven-year-old Kyna's first memory is of drowning; a boat accident took the lives of her family when she was three. She was rescued by Mem and Pep, a water-loving Irish couple who adopted her. They have worked with her on slowly overcoming her fear by taking "water steps" over the years-the latest step is renting a house on Lake Champlain for the summer. Kyna's passion for photography sustains her as she struggles to make peace with the water that surrounds her. Thanks to the gentle prodding of her adoptive parents and a new friend's interest in seeking out the mythical silkies (shape-shifting seals that come to the aid of people in trouble in the water) that he believes live in the lake, she makes tremendous strides over the summer. The final, magical revelation about Mem and Pep's identity will come as much of a surprise to readers as it does to Kyna. Ages 8-13. (Apr.) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
"LaFaye shapes a wonderful novel that I couldn't put down. With descriptive language, LaFaye pulled me into the book to the point that Kyna became my newest best friend. On an inspirational journey, she faces her fears and makes new friends along the way. LaFaye uses her literary genius to bring us, the readers, along for the ride." --"Teen Voices" "Kyna's struggles to take "water" (baby) steps and move through her fear will resonate with many kids who are wrestling overwhelming fears of their own. Kyna's story is a satisfying journey to hope and understanding. Pair this with the film "The Secret of Roan Inish" for a supernatural "book-and-a-movie" night." --"Booklist" "A. LaFaye's WATER STEPS is wonderful, in the most literal sense of the word: which is to say it is a book full of wonder, and wonders. It pulses with a love of nature and the natural world, a world too often lost to modern children. Rich with love and loss, longing and renewal, a bit of mystery and a touch of fantasy, it is a joy to read." --Bruce Coville