Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Water Seeker” as Want to Read:
The Water Seeker
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Water Seeker

3.74  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,010 Ratings  ·  254 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 gif
Audio CD, 0 pages
Published May 25th 2010 by Listening Library (Audio) (first published May 6th 2010)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Water Seeker, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

NoDelia i think the old woman in the stew is Amos's mother . For every woman that takes responsibility for Amos ,she shows herself to them from Rebecca,…morei think the old woman in the stew is Amos's mother . For every woman that takes responsibility for Amos ,she shows herself to them from Rebecca, Henrietta and blue owl.(less)
Out of My Mind by Sharon M. DraperMockingjay by Suzanne CollinsOne Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-GarciaCountdown by Deborah WilesMockingbird by Kathryn Erskine
Newbery 2011
39th out of 136 books — 542 voters
Out of My Mind by Sharon M. DraperFinally by Wendy MassMockingbird by Kathryn ErskineBecause of Mr. Terupt by Rob BuyeaCountdown by Deborah Wiles
Mock Newbery 2010/2011
43rd out of 87 books — 228 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,057)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
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
Jul 18, 2012 Mariah rated it liked it
Shelves: ya-lit
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.

Jun 22, 2010 Tasha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: teen
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
Feb 24, 2013 Ivy rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 14, 2011 Jill rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
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
Nov 07, 2015 Zora rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like wagon train tales
Recommended to Zora by: Random grab off library Overdrive list
A coming of age story set in the American west. This is not really a children's book and is definitely not one I'd recommend for a boy, despite the male protagonist. It has magical realism properties as well.

The writing is pretty, but the story was unbalanced, I thought. The more interesting bits happened in the second half, but some were played out too quickly, while duller bits in the first half should have been edited down.

I nearly subtracted another star for the poor conversion to e-book. Th
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
Jun 10, 2010 Jess rated it really liked it
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
Jun 28, 2010 Hilary rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 20, 2015 Donna rated it liked it
This is a book that falls into the Children's genre. I'm not sure I agree with that. Not only is this a book that I wouldn't read to my children, I'm absolutely sure that my kids wouldn't want to hear this book being read or would even want to read it themselves.

I liked the story. It was original and contained the early American westward movement, which is an era I thoroughly enjoy reading about. But I'm not sure I completely embraced the fantasy element.

I liked Amos. His life was a hard one.
Nov 30, 2014 Marcilee rated it really liked it
I felt like this book, taking place during the westward movement era of our country, was close to a fantasy fiction story for me. Far removed from how I live life now in a large modern city with technology amped, I thoroughly enjoyed the simple and sweet way of life presented in The Water Seeker, with its yesteryear problems and pure relationships that ebb and flow and strengthen over years of working together. I liked learning about dowsing, which I hadn't thought much about before and want to ...more
Debra Goodman
Aug 10, 2014 Debra Goodman rated it really liked it
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
Jul 28, 2015 Kami rated it liked it
This was so close to a four. It needed to focus more on the love story when it got to that part and that would have won it another star. I know, I'm a little pathetic. But the story itself was interesting and kept my kids', husband's and my attention while driving cross country. It kind of reminded of Little House on the Prairie but not sugary sweet like the LHOTP books, or maybe like a kids' version of Lonesome Dove--rambling about travels. I really liked his mother once she was dead. I guess j ...more
Jul 28, 2016 NoDelia rated it it was amazing
Shelves: family
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 10, 2016 Michaela rated it it was ok
I think the idea of a character needs to be explored by the author. It felt like she thought that character meant all this stuff that was on the outside of the character, instead of digging to the heart of the issue. Amos could have struggled with extreme loneliness, depression, abandonment, trust issues and fear of a whole slough of things. Instead the author decided to give him talents and outward random oddities like birds following him and natural artistic ability, which have nothing to do w ...more
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?
Aug 13, 2014 Claudia rated it it was ok
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
Mar 17, 2014 Lindi rated it really liked it
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
Jul 20, 2016 Kim rated it really liked it
I read this book to preview for our fourth grade Historical Fiction unit. At 305 pages, it will be a long read for some 4th graders, but it is leveled perfectly at their reading level (Q). The storylines touch on so many of the hardships that those going west faced. At times the events are gut wrenching but also handled well for young readers. Although this is the story of a young boy named Amos who had a gift for dousing (finding water), you will walk away having learned so much more after shar ...more
Feb 04, 2016 Salsabrarian rated it really liked it
Narrated by Will Patton. I'm glad I listened to this instead of reading the book! Will Patton truly brings this Oregon Trail tale alive by affecting a countrified tone and accent. From the gruff trapper Jake to lighthearted Daisy, every character has a strong presence that enhances the literary experience. It is fascinating to hear Amos' life story unfold, although the dowsing aspect didn't seem to play as much a role as Amos' journey of maturity along the Trail did. A minor quibble though; this ...more
Aug 14, 2011 Josiah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 22, 2010 Judi Paradis rated it really liked it
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
Aug 01, 2010 Nicola Mansfield rated it it was amazing
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
Lisa Delaine Youngblood
Jan 05, 2011 Lisa Delaine Youngblood rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-for-tayshas
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
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'
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 Nocita
Dec 13, 2010 Lisa Nocita rated it liked it
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
Jul 16, 2010 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 03, 2012 Judy Desetti rated it really liked it
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 68 69 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
USA Geography Cha...: The Water Seeker by Kimberly Willis Holt 1 1 Dec 29, 2014 06:05AM  
  • Alchemy and Meggy Swann
  • Keeper
  • The Devil's Paintbox
  • Countdown (The Sixties Trilogy, #1)
  • 90 Miles to Havana
  • The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had
  • The Wonder of Charlie Anne
  • The Boneshaker
  • Crunch
  • As Easy as Falling Off the Face of the Earth
  • Katerina's Wish
  • Zora and Me
  • The Humming of Numbers
  • Heart of a Samurai
  • The War to End All Wars: World War I
  • Yankee Girl
  • The Death-Defying Pepper Roux
  • Woods Runner
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...

Share This Book