cover image Wild River

Wild River

Rodman Philbrick. Scholastic Press, $17.99 (208p) ISBN 978-1-338-64727-3

Newbery Honoree Philbrick twines a heartfelt message about teamwork and forgiveness with realistic dangers in this page-turning survival story. As part of a leadership project, rising sixth grader Daniel Redmayne is chosen to go whitewater rafting in Montana with four of his New Hampshire classmates. “Not a likely pick for anything,” quiet, pale-skinned Daniel isn’t sure why he was selected for this group, but he welcomes a break from sharing a room with his three younger brothers, even if it means having to open up to his raft mates: obnoxious Deke and sidekick Tony, who are white; confident Mia, who is Latinx; and reserved Imana, who is Black. When the planned-upon river turns out to be dry, though, the two adult guides change course, driving 100 miles to Montana’s Crazy River without communicating the change. Disaster strikes immediately, separating the kids from their guardians with only a backpack of emergency supplies. Though Daniel’s bipolar father is insensitively referred to as having “been in your own crazy river,” a battle for power keeps the tension high, as do plenty of twists and cliffhangers, which create enough uncertainty to keep the pages turning. Ages 9–12. [em](Mar.) [/em]