Time for another adventure in the children’s book department. Because it’s a nice break from time to time, and kids books take me to a happy place. The Water Castle by Megan Frazer Blakemore has mystery, adventure, eternity – all the elements of a good time. Let’s see if it works.
After their father suffers a sever stroke, the Appledore-Smith family heads north to the family house in Crystal Springs, Maine, a town that doesn’t exist on any maps. Upon arrival the children realize their new home is as grand as it is mysterious. The Water Castle takes its name from the bottled water that it once sold, said to have healing powers.
If someone was going to believe in magic, this would be the place to start.
A maze-like mansion with a history is the perfect setting for this colorful story. The twist is that the mystery the children must solve occurred over 100 years ago, but its answer could completely alter their bleak, mostly fatherless futures. Fortunately, Blakemore makes it effortless to follow these two parallel stories and care about both sets of characters that have nothing and everything in common.
It’s 1908 when Nora Darling is hired by the eccentric Orlando Appledore to assist him on his scientific quest for the fountain of youth. The Darlings have always assisted the Appledores, usually in the kitchen or fields. But Nora, with her intelligence and big dreams to become and explorer, has no intention of settling for a tame life of service.
In present day, Ephraim Appledore-Smith finds it difficult to adjust to his new life. First off, everyone at his brilliant new school seems way smarter and stronger, especially Mallory Darling, and then a geiger counter tells him he’s radioactive. Plus there’s the strangest buzzing sound in his castle. And his father is still unresponsive.
When the class is each assigned an explorer to research, Ephraim and his two nemeses forget to dislike each other long enough to realize the stories of their explorers strangely overlap with legends of the fountain of youth and The Water Castle. The stories come together as opposite sides of the same argument: Is science to discover the unknown, or to look closer at what we already know and build from there? Is the fountain of youth something to be created or sought?
The Water Castle is the wild musings of laboratory science versus the tireless, blind persistence of on foot exploration. What you get is a fun story with old fashioned charm that both boys and girls can adore. Dad of Divas Reviews and Guys Read concur.