FICTION

River

Scholastic/Orchard. Oct. 2019. 48p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781338312263.
COPY ISBN
PreS-Gr 3–Cooper loves to take children on experiential journeys, which he did so expertly in titles such as Train, Farm, and Beach. This time the excursion is on a mighty river—the Hudson—and the conveyance is a canoe. The book opens with a woman—the solo traveler—waving goodbye to her family and setting off from the headwaters of the river in the Adironacks on a 300-mile trek to New York Harbor. Such an ambitious outing takes extensive training and careful planning, but this woman is up to the task and there’s no better way of appreciating the river ecosystem than this kind of up-close and intensely personal observation. Cooper captures it all in his gloriously expansive and fluid pencil and watercolor artwork in vignettes and full-bleed spreads. The woman’s days consist largely of “paddling, sketching, eating, camping, and paddling again.” She spots a variety of wildlife—moose, otters, mergansers, eagles, seals—crashes through a series of rapids, portages around a dam, and follows the locks at a waterfall. With each day’s progress downriver, the countryside shifts from farmland to villages and larger towns. The woman has to think fast, takes her lumps in a squall, and paddles on until she reaches the city, and reunites with her family. Beyond her bragging rights, she has exhilarating stories to share and fond memories to hold onto, until her next adventure.
VERDICT A marvelous vehicle for nature lovers, armchair travelers, and aspiring boaters and explorers.

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