cover image A River

A River

Marc Martin. Chronicle, $17.99 (44p) ISBN 978-1-4521-5423-7

In a quiet, contemplative outing, a child draws at her desk while looking out her bedroom window, which frames a view of her city: “Sometimes I imagine myself floating along the river, swept away in a silver boat toward the horizon.” Subsequent spreads trace the girl’s journey in a sailboat; in a neat detail, the boat initially appears as part of a mobile hanging in the girl’s room, superimposed over the distant river in a way that hints at the interplay between observation and imagination in the mind of an artist. Working in watercolor, gouache, and other media, Australian author-illustrator Martin follows the blue river through an industrial area with smoking factories into farmland, hilly countryside, and dense jungle, where wild animals watch the girl from the riverbank. After she reaches the ocean, a storm creates a shadowy maelstrom of objects remembered from her journey—splatters and sprays of paint make the pages look almost wet to the touch—followed by a return to her bedroom. It’s a subtle study of how imagination allows children to safely explore the unknown without ever leaving home. Ages 3–5. (Mar.)