As soon as Jamie gets home, she grabs a pencil and pad of paper from her desk. What shape would work best? She sits cross-legged on the floor, sketching.
Humph. She wads the paper and throws it at her recycling bin. Misses.
Crumples, tosses, gets it in.
Jamie opens her model-building book. She hunts for boat designs and finds two. One is too basic. Design two is an ultra-fancy display-only ship. Even if it could float, it would sink in rough water in less than five minutes.
She tries a new angle. No good.
More attempts. Her recycling bin overflows, and the floor is littered with ruined sketches.
Maybe a model boat is a bad idea. Last fall, she brought her lunar lander to show her class. Girls made fun of her and called her Loonie Lander. None of them wanted to hang out with a model builder like Jamie.
Jamie and her family move to the town of Nipigon a couple of weeks before the end of grade four, and Jamie is worried about making friends. She wishes her mom would let her miss the last few weeks of school and stay home, but Mom insists she go to school so that she can make friends before the summer holidays. Jamie is sure she will never make friends because she is different than most girls.
Jamie loves math, science and inventing things. She makes models and even has them on display in her bedroom. She is sure no other girl is interested in the kinds of things she is. As she learns about her new hometown, Jamie hears of the book, Paddle-to-the-Sea. The book tells the fictional story of a young boy who carves a canoe with a man paddling it. In the book, the young boy puts the boat in the river. The boat drifts from Nipigon River into the bay and Lake Superior. It travels through the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Seaway and eventually gets to the sea. Jamie is very interested in this idea and wonders if she can make or build a boat that could make it to the sea. The challenge is on! As Jamie plans and begins to carry out her boat-building project, with the help of her family, she also begins a project to help her fit in and make friends at school. Part of her plan is to keep quiet about her model building plans and do everything the other girls do so that she can make friends.
Making Seaker is a good story about a young girl who is embarrassed about what some might consider ‘masculine’ subjects. Surprise, in the end, it turns out Jamie isn’t the only girl interested in science and math! The characters are true to life with realistic problems, concerns and insecurities. Although the plot is about building the model boat, a lot of the story is about helping young girls see that they can be interested in learning about science and math and still have friends. It also explores the idea of being true to yourself and proud of who you are.
Several times in the story, Making Seaker mentions Holling C. Holling’s Paddle-to-the-Sea, published by Houghton Mifflin in 1941. This book could easily be paired with Paddle-to-the-Sea for language arts and for added interest in reading. It would have been helpful to have a map or two in the book, one showing the town of Nipigon with the locations of the parks and the river running through the town. The other map could have shown the boats’ imaginary journeys to the sea. The title, Making Seaker, was a mystery for me. It was finally explained later in the story when the little model boat is named ‘Seaker’, a word play on sea and seeker.
Mary Harelkin Bishop is the author of the “Tunnels of Moose Jaw Adventure” series as well as many other books, including her Reconciliation books, Mistasinîy: Buffalo Rubbing Stone and Skye Bird and the Eagle Feather, published by DriverWorks Ink. She revised and republished Tunnels of Time, “Moose Jaw Adventure” # 1 with DriverWorks Ink in September 2020 and Tunnels of Terror, “ Moose Jaw Adventure” # 2 in September 2021. She is currently working on revising Tunnels of Treachery for release in 2022. Always busy and interested in kids and writing, Mary is currently undertaking writing projects with schools as well as mentoring adult writers and doing author presentations. She spends her days writing, giving writers’ workshops and playing with her grandchildren. You can find Mary on Facebook and view video clips on her YouTube channel. You can also find her books on the DriverWorks Ink website.