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Bad Day at Riverbend Hardcover – October 30, 1995

4.7 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Van Allsburg cuts loose with this inventive spoof that will keep readers guessing right up to the end. Riverbend is "the kind of place where one day was just like the rest," and it looks it, too-a simple collection of block houses and buildings outlined in black and white. Color soon appears on the scene, however, in the form of scribbles-"great stripes of some kind of shiny, greasy slime"-that puzzle and alarm the residents of Riverbend. Sheriff Ned Hardy aims to put an end to the mystery, and rides out with a posse in search of the answer. Turns out he and his townsfolk are actually trapped in a coloring book, a fact readers discover as the point of view shifts, pulls back and reveals a crayon-wielding hand coloring the pages with glee. Van Allsburg clearly had fun with this one, and readers likely will too. All ages.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Kindergarten-Grade 3?In this fantastical Wild West story set in an actual coloring book, the "quiet little town" of Riverbend is mysteriously invaded by a slimy substance?crayon marks from a child's scribbles?that has the effect of stunning and paralyzing people and animals. Sheriff Ned Hardy and his men set out to get to the bottom of what has been terrorizing the town. In the end, they, too, are stopped in their tracks by the waxy slime as a child, armed with a full range of crayolas, is shown coloring in the last page of her "Cowboy Coloring Book." The illustrations of the town that readers see in the first pages are, appropriately, clean black-line drawings?not the rich, multidimensional illustrations usually associated with Van Allsburg's work. Like Jumanji (1981) and Ben's Dream (1982, both Houghton), this book's creative plot steps beyond the boundaries of reality, and because of its spare, coloring-book context, the artwork must also go beyond the artist's typical style. Larger collections will want to keep up with Van Allsburg's innovativeness, but this effort is pretty much a one-trick pony that most libraries can easily skip.?Christina Linz, Alachua County Library District, Gainesville, FL
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 7 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 680L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers; Library Binding edition (October 30, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 039567347X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0395673478
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.4 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #106,327 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Chris Van Allsburg is the winner of two Caldecott Medals, for Jumanji and The Polar Express, as well as the recipient of a Caldecott Honor Book for The Garden of Abdul Gasazi. The author and illustrator of numerous picture books for children, he has also been awarded the Regina Medal for lifetime achievement in children's literature. In 1982, Jumanji won the National Book Award and in 1996, it was made into a popular feature film. Chris Van Allsburg was formerly an instructor at the Rhode Island School of Design. He lives in Rhode Island with his wife and two children.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I have loved this wonderful book since it came out. This is a grownup's book masquerading as a kiddie book. The children I know have not liked the book, but the adults howl over it. It's one of those books children don't really get because it subtly makes fun of kids...but that is what the fun is all about.
One past reviewer said this was not Chris Van Allsburg's typical illustration. There IS no typical Van Allsburg illustration. All of his books are totally unique. You will not find a copycat book in his whole award winning collection.
The whole point of this delightful books is that it mirrors a child's coloring book. The opening pages are uncolored and shows the typical western town with the peaceful citizens living their quiet daily lives with the usual sheriff in attendance to round up the bad guys. Suddenly a horse and rider pull into town. Hanging from the horse are greasy colored strips hanging from him. The rider was in the same terrible condition. He looked awful. The rider tells the sheriff that he was riding along minding his own business, when suddenly there came a sudden bright light and then he was attacked. The sheriff knows he must act at once to save the town from this terrible unknown threat. I won't tell you the ending.
If you are reading this book in a bookstore, be prepared for people to stare as you double over with tears streaming down your face.
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Format: Hardcover
I'm 40-something. Grew up with Westerns and coloring books and a little brother. This book appealed to me as an adult. I could imagine someone taking an old coloring book a little kid had scribbled in and making a wonderful tale of it. Chris Van Allsburg did a fine job. Hey, little kids might even like it!
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Format: Hardcover
When I first got this book, I thought my mother had made a mistake and picked up one that had been scribbled in. Boy was I in for a treat when I discovered what was really going on in Riverbend. It'll keep you guessing right up to the punch line. You gotta get it!
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Format: Hardcover
Like all Chris van Allsburg's books, "Bad Day at Riverbend" shows an astonishing blend of imagination and talent. The good folks of the tiny western town called Riverbend start to realize that there are all sorts of strange things happening--and no one can explain them. People are afraid. People are uneasy. People turn to the town's sherriff for help.
Adults will tune in right away to what's going on, but what fun to see understanding dawn on a child's face when they realize where the light and color are coming from--it's positively magical to watch.
Van Allsburg employs his usual stellar artistic talent in an unusual way here, and the end result is captivating. There is a sense of unease here, a discomfiting sense of mystery that pervades all Van Allsburg's work, and it works wonderfully well here to heighten the sense of suspense. Much to be admired!
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Format: Hardcover
Chris Van Allsburg goes away from his normal illustrative style and comes up with a winning concept. When I first read this book, I was hooked from the very beginning. If properly explained to young readers, this title could open up a whole new, imaginative way of thinking for them. Don't peek at the ending. Read it from start to finish and you'll find it as wonderful as all of Van Allsburg's work. Enjoy, I'd love to hear what others thought.
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Format: Hardcover
It is a day like anyother in riverbend, where nothing ever happens, occasionally a stage coach will pass through, but wont stop, thats because no one ever comes or goes from the town, simply because theres nothing to be done or seen there. One day the Sheriff walks out into the road looks around, seeing everything normal, he looks down the road and then sees a bright light... and then it goes out. he wanders back into the station to ponder what the light could have been, a stage coach rides into town, with a horrible goo all over it, after several more discoveries of the "slime" the sheriff forms a posse to go after whatever or whoever is doing this destruction. Only for the reader to discover, riverbend.is.a.coloring.book.
I loved this book. this was by far my favorite chris van alsburg book ever, because its got the most irony of all of his books and is so well put together. he has such a great style with his writing and illustrations. I particualariy liked the part where they show the kids hand coloring in the sheriff. All young readers will enjoy this book, and older readers might just get a kick out of it too. enjoy.
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Format: Hardcover
Beware of category confusion: This is a large, thin book with illustrations on each page, so clearly it is a book for very young children, right? My own library shelved it as an Easy Reader.
In fact, it's almost entirely in black and white, except for a few scribbles of color that look as though they had been drawn there in crayon by a careless child, so surely it's a coloring book, right?
But, um, no, it's not.
It's actually a creepy (albeit funny) story about a sheriff dedicated to keeping his town safe as a strange new phenomenon enters his world: big streaks of something strange and greasy that trap and cripple people and animals. The streaks are like nothing he has seen before, although we can recognize them at once: they are crayon marks in a coloring book.
The sheriff never does learn the true nature of his world. That's probably for the best, since there is nothing to be gained by his learning just how limited and insignificant and vulnerable he and his people are. That's a Lovecraftian moral that would be missed by most children, and would probably distress those who get it.
Go ahead and read this book. Read it to your children, even. Just be ready for the possibility that you may overhear your child scribbling in a coloring book, narrating a terrifying fate for the people depicted in it.
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