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Durbin, William.
New York : Wendy Lamb, 2003.
IL 5-8, RL 6.2
ISBN 0385901496

(2 booktalks)

Booktalks #1

Have you ever wondered what life was like long ago?  There are many books out there that make life in the 1890s look quaint and charming.  But there was a harshness to the times as well.  This book will let you see what life was like in a lumber camp in the winter.  Ben is working the camp along with his father.  They are the cooking team and are responsible for feeding a group of hungry, earthy men.  The work is hard.  The weather is hard and the crew is hard.  Through it all, Ben tries to get closer to his dad and find out about his mother.

Booktalk #2

Do you know what a "wanigan" is?  Ever hear of a "swingdiddle"?  In the winter of 1898, 13-year-old Ben learns these colorful terms and many more when he signs on as a cook's helper at a Minnesotan logging camp.  The cook is a strict taskmaster, and also happens to be his pa.  Ben would prefer joining the loggers out in the woods, rather than peeling potatoes and flipping flapjacks, but he is still too young.  what bothers Ben most about his dad is that he refuses to talk about his ma, who died when he was little.  He craves to have a sense of what she was like, but pa remains adamantly silent on the matter.  Many eccentric (and non-bathing) characters populate the crew of the camp, and Ben learns much about the logging trade, and living rough.  Surprisingly, he even learns something about his long departed mother!  Blackwater Ben is an informative historical novel that paints a vivid picture of a bygone era.  Laced with humor as well as some tense moments, this book should appeal to fans of such authors as Gary Paulsen and Will Hobbs.  (New Hampshire Great Stone Face Committee, 2004-05)

SUBJECTS:     Lumber camps -- Fiction.
                        Logging -- Fiction.
                        Frontier and pioneer life -- Minnesota -- Fiction.
                        Fathers and sons -- Fiction.
                        Minnesota -- History 1858-  -- Fiction.
                        Historical fiction.


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