The River That Flows Beside Me

words & pictures. (Look Closer). Oct. 2023. 20p. Tr $26. ISBN 9780711283497.
PreS-Gr 4–Guillain has devised a new book in the “Look Closer” series: a vibrant concertina—or fold-out book—which, with Empson’s bright coursing illustrations, ingeniously follows a river winding to the sea. The river’s source begins in the craggy snowy peaks of a mountain, populated by moose and white-tailed deer. The river gathers strength, passing through chasms, becoming a waterfall here and there, traveling through bucolic pastures and other landscapes until it joins and becomes imperceptible in the sea. Without page turns, the format is ideal for showing how one river can unite a variety of ecosystems, habitats, and throughways. The friendly text points out connections to the changing scenery as well as the river source in the rocky peaks all the way to the wide-open river mouth, passing gorges, waterfalls, farms, docks, train tracks, overpasses, highways, cities, and more. Humans show up in wading boots and kayaks; as tourists and swimmers; on trains and zip lines; farmers, workers loading vehicles, birders, everywhere. They are not always labeled, but all the other wildlife is! Tiny pond skaters and water beetles are at home in the river, as the large gray whales are at the river’s ultimate destination. This is an absolutely sensational piece of creativity.
VERDICT Eye-opening information in a simple style; if the format reads young, the epiphanies are for preschool through upper elementary-aged children.

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