Saturday, November 29, 2008

Book Review: Quest

Quest by Kathleen Benner Duble. (Grades 7+)

The year is 1610 and 17-year-old John Hudson has just set off with his father Henry Hudson to find a passage to the east. Young Richard Hudson has been left home with mother, begging for credit when the ship does not return on time. Isabella is in love with John but cannot marry a lowly sailor so she spies on the Dutch, hoping to gain knowledge of their maps and raise her family's stature. And Seth is a first-time sailor on Hudson's ship, green first with seasickness and then with disgust as events unfold. It will be a rocky journey for all of them.

Rich with historical detail and told in four alternating perspectives, this is a story about a man obsessed with his quest, willing to risk everything for the possibility of greatness. Leaving his wife at home without any means of supporting herself, Henry Hudson sailed on even in the face of insurmountable obstacles.

It was really interesting to get the perspective of the explorers and the people left at home. I had never thought about the family that these explorers left at home, so it was great to see the story through their eyes, too. An author's note is included and appreciated, but I wish there had been a short introduction to set the stage. I ended up doing a little research just to figure out what was going on. The alternating perspectives keep the story interesting and kept me turning the pages, but it's a bit hard to keep track of the passage of time.

Definitely recommended for fans of historical fiction and I think this might appeal to kids who have to read historical fiction for school and aren't big fans of it. It's got swordfighting, espionage, and adventures on the high seas.

Check out Kathleen Brenner Duble's website.