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Archipelago by David Ward


by David Ward

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Canadian Children's Book Centre Our Choice, 2009 Oregon Spirit Book Award Honor Book in the Juvenile category, 2009 Twelve-year-old Jonah and his mother, a well-known photographer, are on a self-healing mission, exploring the natural beauty of the Queen Charlotte Islands. They are each trying in their own way to get over the tragic loss of father and husband whodied in a rock climbing accident months before. One day, when a mysterious girl appears wading in the waters near their floathouse, and an even more mysterious mist saves Jonah from his own plunge off a clifftop, Jonah is plunged into a time travel adventure that takes him back 14,000 years when the Charlottes were one of the stops for the ancient peoples making their way from Asia over the Bering Strait and down through the Americas. It is a time when the seas were much lower than they are in the 21st century because of the proliferation of ice and the different climate - and so the map of the islands had changed significantly. For Jonah this is a healing quest, teaming with Akilah, the girl from that other time who teaches him survival skills he has never dreamed of. There is menace in the confrontation with the Crossers - more recent arrivals from the Bering Strait - and from all manner of natural hazards. The burgeoning friendship with Akilah arouses all Jonah's generous instincts and yearning for love. Above all, he discovers personal strengths that help him get past the loss of his father, qualities and realizations that he brings back to his mother when the adventure is complete.… (more)



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“I need a quest,” twelve-year-old Jonah tells God. “Hear that? I want a quest. You took my dad. The least you could do is give me some direction.” In fact, God has already prepared a quest for Jonah, teasing him with the tantalizing mystery of a girl no one else can see.
As it turns out, the girl is Akilah, and she is also twelve. She lived 14,000 years ago on the same Queen Charlotte Islands where Jonah and his mother have been camping. In Akilah’s time, glaciers lined Canada’s western shores and water levels were so low that some islands are not on Jonah’s contemporary map because they have been submerged by glacial melt. A door has opened between the two times, and a magical mist guides Jonah to the threshold so that he can begin his adventure.
To Jonah’s mother, Jonah appears to be sleeping deeply because of a possible concussion from a fall earlier in the day. This Wizard of Oz motif frames the story gracefully, even though Jonah’s quest is much more perilous than anything Dorothy faced on her way to the Emerald City. Together, Jonah and Akilah confront sub-zero temperatures and the “Crossers,” who try to kill Akilah’s people for their meager belongings. Akilah and Jonah must defend themselves from these fierce fighters if they want to live. During their free time, however, they talk, and Akilah’s matter-of-fact attitude about death strikes Jonah as appalling. However, she also tells him that his father “lives on inside of you,” and that it is a “great honor” to live in ways he would have respected.
David Ward’s clear, direct prose keeps the plot lively, and his dialogues, especially those between Jonah and his mother, are lifelike and compelling. This is his fifth book. His other titles include the Mask trilogy and The Hockey Tree. by Elizabeth Breau ( )
  ForeWordmag | Jan 23, 2009 |
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Red Deer Press

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