According to thirteen-year-old Ben Ward’s father, lumberjacks look forward to two things: mealtime and springtime. In the winter of 1898, Ben leaves school for a job as a cook’s assistant to his father at the Blackwater Logging Camp. As Ben spends long hours peeling potatoes and frying flapjacks, he dreams of working in the woods with the other men, felling trees, driving a team, and skidding timber.
While enduring a long, cold winter in a camp filled with outlandish characters, as well as an orphan boy named Nevers, Ben comes to understand himself and his family’s past. Peppered throughout with heart and humor—and including a glossary and afterword with facts about logging—Blackwater Ben paints a vivid picture of the north woods of Minnesota at the end of the nineteenth century.
William Durbin is a former high school and college English teacher and the award-winning author of ten novels, including The Broken Blade, Until the Last Spike, Song of Sampo Lake (Minnesota, 2011), and The Darkest Evening (Minnesota, 2011). He lives on Lake Vermilion at the edge of Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.