Kyna likes her friends, her purple hair, and taking photographs. But there's something she definitely doesn't like: the water. Every time she comes near it, she feels the sinister pull of the depths trying to draw her down to a watery grave. Even the calm water in the bathtub reminds her of the torrential storm that took the lives of her sailing family when she was just a baby. But Kyna's adopted parents love nothing more than to swim and splash about in lakes and streams, or even the local pool. When they decide to spend the summer at a beach house on Lake Champlain, Kyna is convinced that they're trying to teach her something about water that she's not ready to learn. Little does she know that the water will reveal far more than she ever could have imagined. Inspired by Champ, the legendary monster living in Lake Champlain, Water Steps finds novelist A. LaFaye at her best, expertly interweaving themes of adolescent fears and fantasies, the frustrations and rewards of family, and a world of mystery and magic under the placid surface of nature.
Realistic fiction takes an unexpected turn into fantasy in LaFaye's (Worth) lyrical exploration of a girl coping with her fear of water. Eleven-year-old Kyna's first memory is of drowning; a boat accident took the lives of her family when she was three. She was rescued by Mem and Pep, a water-loving Irish couple who adopted her. They have worked with her on slowly overcoming her fear by taking "water steps" over the years the latest step is renting a house on Lake Champlain for the summer. Kyna's passion for photography sustains her as she struggles to make peace with the water that surrounds her. Thanks to the gentle prodding of her adoptive parents and a new friend's interest in seeking out the mythical silkies (shape-shifting seals that come to the aid of people in trouble in the water) that he believes live in the lake, she makes tremendous strides over the summer. The final, magical revelation about Mem and Pep's identity will come as much of a surprise to readers as it does to Kyna. Ages 8 13.