cover image A River Ran Wild: An Environmental History

A River Ran Wild: An Environmental History

Lynne Cherry. Harcourt Children's Books, $17 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-15-200542-9

Cherry traces the ecological evolution of New England's Nashua River--how it was respected by generations of Indians, polluted and ultimately deadened in the wake of the industrial revolution and restored in recent years through the efforts of concerned citizens. She delivers this message with a heavier hand than she used in The Great Kapok Tree ; her writing is more complex and ponderous, and less accessible and inviting, than in the earlier work. While this book provides a solid history, it does little to bring the issues or pivotal figures to life. The colorless account of the citizens' battle to clean up the river, for example, reflects little of the passions and energy involved. Though not her best work, Cherry's illustrations tell the story more effectively. (One allegorical painting of an Indian chief's head--superimposed on trees--crying into the river, however, jars with the naturalistic style.) Of particular benefit are the handsome, intricately detailed borders that surround the text: depictions of various period artifacts provide artistic interest and added information. Ages 6-10. (Mar.)