Since the dawn of civilization humans have understood the importance of rivers. They are integral parts of our communities; the veins pumping life into our towns and cities. Marc Martin in his book, A River depicts a young girl looking out of her window at a river below. Her bedroom is adorned with beautiful and interesting keepsakes. The river stretches out to her left and her right. She gets in a small silver boat and sets off on an engaging and intrepid adventure. First through a vast metropolis, she bobs along amid buildings spewing out pollution and then there’s the automotive rat race above her head.
Her journey takes her through intense jungles and across vast expanses of farmland and over a fast flowing waterfall. Watercolor, gouache, pencil, and digital collage come together and create breathtakingly beautiful scenes. Each page has layers on top of layers. There is a rich depth to each picture that forces you to stare at the page and then stare again. The color is strikingly beautiful and the pages are able to stand alone as mini pieces of art. It is fascinating to compare visions of nature alongside the urban jungles we have created. The river runs through each scene regardless.
It is also fun to go through the book and see the keepsakes the girl has in her bedroom show up again in her adventure. Wild animals, sprawling fern leaves and similar patterns are echoed throughout the book. The text also compliments the illustrations in a way that enriches the story. Sometimes in a book the words are stronger than the pictures. That is not the case here. This is a book you will want to savor slowly.
A.A.Milne said “Rivers know this: There is no hurry. We shall get there someday”. This book embodies this sentiment entirely!
This book is for the dreamers, adventurers and lovers of the natural beauty that surrounds us. I would recommend it for preschoolers and elementary school aged children.