cover image I Want to Be a River

I Want to Be a River

Cécile Elma Roger, illus. by Ève Gentilhomme. Tra, $17.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-73531-159-3

“When I grow up,” Abel announces to his friends, “I want to be a river.” In this dreamy eco-fable in translation from a French team, Gentilhomme gives ragdoll-like features to the faces of a naysaying peer group, coloring them blue, red, white, and yellow. “That’s nonsense,” they say. But Abel already sees himself as a river, immersed in the water and surrounded by aquatic plants, and he has a joyful answer for every literal objection. To “You would have no legs,” he responds, “Yet I would run faster than ever. I would cross entire continents!” It’s only questions about “dirty waste” that silence Abel; he’s shown in dark water, amid fish bones and plastics. In imagining the river destroyed, his classmates have also demolished Abel’s dream. They soon hasten to undo the harm: “If you were full of waste, we’d take care of you. Don’t worry!” The vision of the river made healthy again offers hope in this account, but its main thrust is Abel’s faith in his own dream, his Heraclitus-like awareness of the river’s constant change, and his ability to meet every objection with a truthful, exuberant reply. Ages 4–8. (Mar.)