From her bedroom, a young child stares out of the window and looks at the river that runs through the city. As she stares, her imagination begins to take over and she sees herself sailing along the river in a silver boat. Through the city, past factories, past farms, through hills and valleys, down waterfalls, through jungles and mangroves and all the way to the ocean…
A River is a beautiful book that brings to life a girl’s imagination. It shows the power of imagination and that we really can go or be anywhere without having to leave our own home. On the girl’s journey she passes through lots of different environments. The river winds its way through the bustling city and an ‘endless stream of busyness’ where roads and bridges are congested and the landscape is dominated by grey. The journey continues as she passes factories that feed off the river and that fill the air with smoke and smog before she reaches the calmer and warmer tones of the countryside filled with farms that use the river to maintain their crops. The power of the river is seen as it cuts its way through the hills and valleys before tumbling down a waterfall. My favourite scene is the jungle, where the silver boat winds its way through the trees and bushes under the ever watchful eyes of parrots, toucans, monkeys and big cats. More observant readers will notice that a the start of the book the silver boat that the girl travels in is hanging from a mobile in her bedroom, and Martin has cleverly positioned this over the distant river that is seen through the window. I really like this connection between the inside and the outside.
With limited text on each page, the environments are brought to life through incredible artwork over double page spreads. The illustrations are rich and filled with detail and offer plenty of opportunities for close observations and discussions.
A wonderful journey through one child’s vivid imagination. With striking illustrations and poetic prose, this book has a dreamy quality to it as readers can imagine themselves floating along the river and drifting to a place of serenity.
Recommended for 4+.