cover image River River

River River

Judith Heide Gilliland / Author, Joyce Powzyk / Illustrator Cl

Gilliland's praise song to the Amazon, ``the mightiest river in the world,'' exemplifies the best sort of educational writing: filled with facts and scientific information, the narrative only implies its lessons, impressing the reader primarily with its lyricism and sense of place. The author describes how the 4000-mile-long giant begins as a ``cold trickle no wider than a baby's foot,'' gathers into thundering waterfalls and then spreads wide and deep through less mountainous land. Her story of the Amazon includes the environment it creates--forests ``so damp and so wet / that the trees themselves rain.'' The text teems with the names of flora and fauna, with the sounds of events large (``BOOM / the fruit of the Cannon Ball tree / crashes to the ground'') and small ( Tffffffffft, a bird is caught in a giant spiderweb''). Powzyk, a conservationist who is earning a doctorate in biology, shares Gilliland's understated approach. Using a subdued palette, she communicates the exotic by emphasizing texture and light. A powerful, poetic introduction. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)