The Water Seeker
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The Water Seeker

3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  829 ratings  ·  232 reviews
"When i was a boy, my pa dowsed to earn extra money when we had a lean year. And when he put the branch in my hands for the first time, I felt a burning inside me because I had the gift, too. Just be thankful I didn't hand that gift down to you."
Amos figured it was probably best not to tell his father that it was too late.
What would you do if you knew you had a special gi...more
Audio CD, 0 pages
Published May 11th 2010 by Listening Library (first published May 6th 2010)
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Destinee Sutton
Gorgeous! Epic! Transporting! I 100% loved it.

One of my librarian colleagues took this book out of the running for our Mock Newbery early (back when the title was "The Dowser's Son") because of a couple lines right at the book's opening: "...he'd not been with a woman in a long time. Without thinking he said, 'Well, I reckon I could marry you.'" Out of context, I can see how this might make the book seem too mature for the Newbery age range (up to and including 14-year-olds). But I think this i...more
Mariah
Although the setting is very different from "When Zachary Beaver Came to Town", Holt once again explores the process one boy goes through to become a man. When his real mother dies in child birth, Amos is passed from woman to woman and each brings something important to his development. The story really takes off when Amos is 14 and begins traveling with his family on the Oregon trail. The crises he faces on the treacherous journey forces him to grow up and see people for what they really are.

W...more
Ivy
Feb 24, 2013 Ivy rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Historical fiction fans, Young Adult
Shelves: young-adult
Here is a little diamond in the rough. Kimberly Willis Holt writes a coming-of-age story about young Amos Kincaid, born to an artist mother and a wandering father in early 19th century America.

The story is mostly about Amos and his family, the lives they lead and their experiences as a pioneering family. From the beginning, TWS sucks you right in. Holt spins her web masterfully, introducing you to her numerous characters and making them so real that you wish you had lived in their time. You come...more
Gwen the Librarian
I really enjoyed this excellent and tender coming-of-age story about a boy and his relationship with his father, his yearning for a mother, and his adventure on a wagon train going to Oregon. While some mature young readers will enjoy the story, the harsh opening chapters tilt this read toward an older audience.
Margo Tanenbaum
Award-winning children's author Kimberly Willis Holt offers a lyrical coming-of-age story set against the harsh reality of pioneer times and the Oregon trail in her newest novel. The central character is Amos, born in 1834, the son of a dowser, or water-seeker. His father, Jake, has the mystical gift of finding water, a gift handed down from son to son in his family. His mother, Delilah, died while giving birth to Amos but appears repeatedly in the novel as a ghost visible to those women who car...more
Tasha
I am struggling with the summary of this book. I could list all of the things that happen, but that doesn’t capture the wonder of this book, the tiny touches that make it so very special and the overlying theme of water and family that tie it all together. I could talk about the special moments but at its heart this book is the story of a boy who becomes a man before our eyes and builds his own sort of family out of the people he loves. It is the story of Amos, a boy who loses his mother the mom...more
Jill
I'm not sure if I liked this book or not. I certainly enjoyed the plot (I'm a sucker for a storyline that uses the Oregon Trail), the characters, and the flow. Even the little magical bits. But it seemed to be missing something... bigger. I suppose the moral (for lack of a better term) was about growing up and becoming yourself, but this wasn't expressed strongly. I wanted a reason to read this, an ultimate "ah ha!" which I guess I didn't get.

I expected there to be more dowsing in this book, but...more
Jess
It's moving story, with themes about family, belonging, growing up, and learning to see past the surface of things, set during the 1830s and 40s. It pulls you in, makes you care for characters, doesn't spare you any of the pain of loss or change, takes you across the country on the Oregon Trail, makes you feel fear and first love. It manages to feel gritty without much violence, and it makes history close and immediate.

But will any kids pick it up off the shelf? I know, I know - just because it...more
Hilary
The cover of "The Water Seeker" is outstanding. The book begs to be picked up and opened. And what an opening it is!

This fast-paced historical fiction adventure story for teens will have them living in the frontier world of Amos who endures the hardships on the Oregon Trail.

The author does an excellent job making her main characters and secondary characters seem completely authentic. You care about what happens to them. With a deft touch Holt manages to weave mysticism into the story without ove...more
Debra Goodman
Adam's father is a dowser but prefers trapping to water seeking. This historic fiction follows Amos's life from his birth in 1833 to 1859. There is a huge cast of interesting characters - as Adam lives with his mother in a home near his abusive grandparents, then with a preacher uncle and his wife near a large farm family and the Otto Indians, returns to his birth home and connects with an aunt and her young family, and later with a Shoshone step-mother - and, in the end, travels the Oregon Trai...more
Donalyn
This amazing book follows the story of Amos, a dowser's son, who travels along the Oregon Trail. You will become attached to the characters, rejoycing and crying along with them as the face the hardships of wilderness life. A masterful piece of storytelling and one of the best books I have read this summer.

Can anyone call the Newbery committee?
Claudia
Not my favorite. Yes there is character growth but the voice of our 5 and 14-year-old protagonist didn't change enough for me. The internal and external conflict was realistic but slow. There are so many moments I think "ah-ha! Now finally action!" and then the moment dies. Amos is not a character of deep reflection.
I guess what really bothers me is Amos witches for water once. The author sets this magical tone of water seeking being a curse, but that is as far as the magic goes.
Now if you are...more
Lindi
A quiet story with humor and grief and some unforgettable characters. Motherless and 5-years-old, Amos is reclaimed by his father after his beloved aunt dies of smallpox. He tries to protect himself from more loss by staying aloof, but that's just not in his nature. Meanwhile he grows up, along with his new family, culminating with a move west on the Oregon Trail. One of the interesting hooks is dowsing, the search for water by walking with a stick and "feeling" it tug.

Good book for kids who lov...more
Josiah
The Water Seeker compares well with some of the classic literary tales of simple living, novels such as The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls. The Water Seeker is a book completely comfortable with bucking the recent trend toward stories with modern settings, and gives us a chance to experience the rawness of human emotion in a place and time that certainly was not lacking for such excruciating feelings of personal upheaval. In the lives that most...more
Judi Paradis
A realistic, compelling look at life in the mid-1800s in the middle of America. Amos is a young boy living a precarious existence following his mother's death when he is born. His fur trapper father sends him off to live with relatives, later reclaims him, and then takes Amos on a memorable trek along the Oregon Trail with a pioneer wagon train. Throughout the book Holt lets us see how the insecurity of these years contributed to people being super cautious about many things (for example, not tr...more
Nicola Mansfield
Reason for Reading: I love frontier life western historical fiction and the dowsing aspect caught my eye.

It seems strange to call a book with just over 300 pages an epic story but that really is the best way to describe "The Water Seeker". It is the story of a family starting with the meeting of the mother and father and ending with their child married, with his own youngster. The main character is a boy who we meet at birth and he grows to manhood, but for the most part of the book he is a youn...more
Lisa Delaine Youngblood
Beautifully written, this novel chronicles the life of Amos, the son of a dowser or water seeker. Though his father, Jake, sees water seeking as a curse, he and his family often need it to earn a living. Born to a mother who died at childbirth and a father who travels throughout the winter, Amos is raised by his Aunt Rebekah and his Uncle Seth, a pastor in a small community reaching out to area American Indian tribes. As his mother predicted, Amos's life is hard. After the death of Rebekah, Amos...more
Julie
The Water Seeker chronicles the early life of Amos Kincaid, from his birth, to his journey on the Oregon Trail, and concluding a few years into his marriage.

Seeker is a quiet, subtle book. While there are many moments of great drama, the majority of the book is introspective and concerns Amos's slow growth into manhood. For this reason, it will not be appealing to every child. It's a hard novel to categorize. Is it an overland trail journey? No, only an estimated quarter concerns Amos's family'...more
Hilary
Amos Kincaid was brought into the world with a tragedy. The death of his own mother. Not knowing where else to turn, Amos' father, Jake, drops off the baby at his brother's mission in Missouri, vowing to come back each year and visit. Gil reluctantly takes on the role of raising Amos, but Rebecca, his wife, embraces it with her whole heart, becoming everything a mother can be to Amos. Each year with Jake's return, Amos fears that he'll be taken away from his home to go live with this rough and g...more
Lisa
A slow and rambling story about a young boy who lives in the early to mid 1800's. Amos' mother dies in childbirth and his father, a trapper, leaves Amos with his brother and sister-in-law to raise until Rebecca dies of Smallpox. His father, Jake, then comes to take him home where he lives with his step-mother, an Shoshone Indian, his aunt Daisy, her husband Homer, and his young cousin Finn until the whole family sets out from Independence, MO for the great West. Jake is a scout on the trail and...more
David
The Water Seeker begins with Jake Kincaid, a man who is a dowser, gifted in knowing how to “find” water deep in the ground, who prefers his life as a trapper in the West. Jake marries Delilah, a young neighbor, who gives birth to son Amos, but dies in childbirth. Jake sees that Amos is taken care of but leaves him with others for long periods of time. The spirit of Delilah appears to those women who care for Amos as he grows. Amos doesn’t reveal his gift to others; he’s not sure he wants the bur...more
Judy Desetti
YALSA Best Books for YA 2011
KS Heartland Award Nomination List- 2011

I fell into the book and loved it. Great story. I am sure it won't take me long to read.

This story spans the time period from 1833 in Missouri to 1859 in Oregon. You get to know various characters throughout the novel but primarily follow the life of Amos whose mother dies in childbirth and then must live with various families since his dad is a trapper and travels most of the year. The bulk of the novel illuminates the hardshi...more
Audrey
This is a very entertaining story. It follows Amos Kincaid’s life from just prior to his birth and through his adulthood. There are many characters in the book to keep track of, but each character brings something special to the story. The glimpse at life at this time is very interesting and seems authentic. The racial tension between whites and Native Americans is evident, and I like how Amos must come to terms with a Native American woman becoming a mother figure in his life. The messages of p...more
Chelsea
This book was a bit unexpected. Amos is the son of a dowser and a tragic woman with an affinity for birds. Left by his wandering father after his mother's death, he is raised in turn by a gentle, loving aunt, a hard-nosed but ultimately kind neighbor, and finally, his own wild father and his silent Shoshone wife. His foster mothers are all in turn haunted by the specter of his mother and the birds that seem to follow him everywhere. Amos is an authentic voice that grows and matures over the year...more
jess
I read this for my friend Laura's book club. The book club is reading Newbury contenders, but I haven't been playing along (it's a book club 2,000 miles away, ok?) so I have no idea how this book measures up. Regardless, I read it during a flight from Seattle to St Louis (my most-hated airport) and it made the flight seem short.

The basic plot centers around Amos Kincaid and his family, wherein "family" is defined in the Wild Wild West fashion as the people who are around you, who love you, take...more
Rebekah
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Megan D. Neal
When Amos Kincaid was born, his mother died, and his trapper father, away most of the year, came home to the surprise of his existence. He took baby Amos to his brother and sister-in-law to raise. Years later, after much has befallen young Amos, his father returns with a new wife, to reclaim Amos.

This is a book that is hard to describe or summarize. It is a book about love and loss, the harshness of frontier life, learning to accept people for who they are, about family and what that means. At i...more
Diane
This book annoyed me. The story was fine - even good. But I was annoyed by the fakey mysticism - the image of Amps' mother appearing everywhere. And the birds - such a great chance to have good mysticism but she never did anything with them. And the dowsing - I thought that would be a major theme and metaphor but it just seems to be something she threw in at the beginning and end. And Amos' drawing. When Gwendolyn helps him draw pictures of people I thought, oh, now we are going to have an inter...more
Shayna Greenblatt
The Water Seeker Shayna Greenblatt
Kimberly Willis Holt
ISBN 978-0-8050-8020-9

When God created water, he made the Kincaids, for water flowed through their veins like blood. So much so, they knew how to draw it deep from the earth. That was their gift. That was their curse. Father to son. Father to son. Father to son.

So begins the poignant story of Amos Kincaid, son of a dowser. When Jake Kincaid comes home, astonished to discover that his wife has passed away, leaving nothing but their newborn s...more
Jan
Traces the hard life, filled with losses, adversity, and adventure, of Amos, son of a trapper and dowser, from 1833 when his mother dies giving birth to him until 1859, when he himself has grown up and has a son of his own

A richly detailed historical novel about the pioneers taking the Oregon Trail. The pace is slow, but that is obviously the intent of the author who takes her time in developing the story and the characters. Some of the characters did not strike me as completely authentic—someti...more
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Kimberly Willis Holt is the author of the Piper Reed series, including Piper Reed, Navy Brat, Piper Reed, Clubhouse Queen, and Piper Reed, Rodeo Star. She has written many award-winning novels, including The Water Seeker and My Louisiana Sky, as well as the picture books Waiting for Gregory and Skinny Brown Dog. A former Navy brat herself, Holt was born in Pensacola, Florida, and lived all over th...more
More about Kimberly Willis Holt...
When Zachary Beaver Came to Town My Louisiana Sky Piper Reed: Navy Brat (Piper Reed #1) Keeper of the Night Part of Me: Stories of a Louisiana Family

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