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Lost in the River of Grass (Carolrhoda Ya) Hardcover – March 1, 2011

4.7 out of 5 stars 50 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

In this authentic survival adventure, Sarah, a 13-year-old scholarship student, leaves her preppy classmates on a weekend trip to the Everglades and takes off with Andy, 15, a kind local who offers her a brief guided tour in his airboat. After the boat sinks, they walk for three days through the swamp with little food and water�fighting off mosquitoes, snakes, and alligators�until, finally, helicopters rescue them. What comes through best here is not only the teens� courage and mutual support but also the realism of their fights and weaknesses, even in the small moments, as when he apologizes after he can�t stop himself from guzzling all the Gatorade. Andy is white and ashamed that his dad flies the Confederate flag. Sarah, in turn, is ashamed when she loses it and calls Andy a backwoods redneck (she doesn�t reveal that she is black until the very end). It�s the identity questions as much as the taut rescue story that will resonate with readers. Grades 7-10. --Hazel Rochman

About the Author

Young Adult novelist, Ginny Rorby, is the author of Dolphin Sky, (Putnam, '96) Hurt Go Happy, (Tor Books, '06) The Outside of a Horse, (Dial Books, '10) and Lost in the River of Grass, (Lerner Books, March '11) Dolphin Sky was nominated for the Keystone Reading Award. Hurt Go Happy was a Junior Library Guild, a Scholastic Book Fair selection, has been nominated for reading awards in six states and won the ALA's 2008 Schneider Family Book award. The Outside of a Horse is a Scholastic Book Fair selection, and Lost in the River of Grass is a Junior Library Guild selection, a Scholastic Book Fair selection, and has just been nominated for the Sunshine State Reading award.
Ginny was raised in Winter Park, Florida, and lived in Miami during her career as a Pan American flight attendant. She holds an undergraduate degree in biology from the University of Miami, and an MFA in Creative Writing from Florida International University. Her goal, after wrapping up her flying career and her graduate studies, was to move someplace where she would never be hot again. She now lives on the chilly coast of northern California with her thirty-year-old parrot and way too many cats. Ginny is director emeritus of the Mendocino Coast Writers Conference and continues her involvement with this 23 year-old institution. She served as President of the Mendocino Coast Audubon Society for seven years, was on the board of the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, is past president of the Point Cabrillo Lightkeeper's Association, and continues to serve on the PCLK board of directors. 

Product Details

  • Age Range: 11 - 15 years
  • Grade Level: 7 - 10
  • Lexile Measure: 750L (What's this?)
  • Series: Carolrhoda Ya
  • Hardcover: 255 pages
  • Publisher: Carolrhoda Books (March 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0761356851
  • ISBN-13: 978-0761356851
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,808,958 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I was raised in Winter Park, Florida, where we lived on a lake. I think it was a Purple gallinule who sparked my interest in wildlife and eventually my love of all animals with the exception of palmetto bugs (big roaches.) Purple gallinules look a little like coots, but are purplish blue, have yellow legs, long toes and a beak the color of candy corn. This one, named Big Foot, came back every summer for five years, padding in and out of our kitchen at will for handouts. After high school and a failed attempt at being a bank teller, I moved to Miami and went to work as a flight attendant for National Airlines. In 1980, Pan American Airways bought that company and I worked for them for another 9 years. About midway through my flying career I came to my senses and realized that if I was ever going to do anything else, I needed an education. At age 33, I enrolled in the University of Miami to pursue an undergraduate degree in biology, specializing in ornithology--the study of birds. It was an accidental encounter with an abandoned dog that launched my 'writing career.' After taking eight years to finish my undergraduate studies, I went to graduate school and received an MFA in Creative Writing from Florida International University. My goal then became to move someplace where I would never be hot again. I now live on the chilly coast of northern California with my thirty-five year-old parrot and two cats. I share my three-acre, forested space, as graciously as I can, with skunks, possums, raccoons, an occasional black bear and a mountain lion. A single (and I hope it stays that way) Little Brown bat has lived in the rafters of bathroom for the last five years sleeping (thankfully) directly above the sink. I wouldn't want to hurt my parrot's feelings, but I think my favorite pet of all time was an albino Red Rat snake named Rosie. If I could come back as an animal I would like to return as a Turkey vulture. Some one else kills your food for you and the rest of the time you get to ride thermals of warm air with your friends. Being a bird and flying with friends, what more could one ask for?

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
With her latest novel, "Lost in the River of Grass, "Ginny Rorby has once again shown that she is not only a highly gifted and enthralling storyteller, but a mesmerizing teacher whose books are her classroom. In this one, readers riveted by the saga of two young teenagers who find themselves suddenly stranded in Florida's Everglades will also gain an understanding of the ecology of this unique wilderness and its various inhabitants, from alligators and a variety of snakes to herons and frogs. As in her previous books, which have enabled young readers (and older ones as well) to better comprehend the complex interrelationships between humans and the animals with which we share the planet - be they dolphins, primates or horses - and the cruelties we routinely inflict on our highly sensitive fellow creatures, Rorby exhibits a mastery of her subject matter as well as a talent for getting across the information she wishes to convey through spellbinding (and often humorous) prose.

On another level, she serves her youthful audience as a kind of literary mentor, not only through her empathy for the pain, conflicts and uncertainty of adolescence, but an understanding of the inherent strengths and weaknesses that we usually discover in ourselves as we mature (a process which, for the protagonists of her latest book, is anything but gradual). By creating characters with whose feelings and problems many teens will readily identify, she enables readers to vicariously benefit from the experiences, encounters and life lessons that unfold of the pages of her novels - and, in the case of this one, a new appreciation for the many things we tend to take for granted in the course of daily existence.
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Format: Kindle Edition
What scares you most? Spiders, snakes, big bugs, murky water, things that hunt by night? Put all your fears in one place and you have the Florida Everglades, the hostile, strangely beautiful setting for Ginny Rorby's latest YA page-turner, Lost in the River of Grass.

It's safe to say that few of Rorby's readers have been lost for days without adequate food, water, protective clothing or equipment as they wander in a swamp. Unlike 14-year-old Sarah Emerson, they have not had to put their lives in the hands of a 15-year-old stranger. But even the most naïve, overprotected reader will identify with the surprise, terror, amazement, frustration and triumph Sarah feels throughout this gripping tale of survival. Don't think this book is just for kids. Adults will be riveted, too.

Sarah, like all of Rorby's protagonists, is an outsider struggling to find her place in the world. There is also the signature reverence for nature, and even a special animal relationship in the form of a rescued mallard duckling named Teapot. But this time around, Rorby ups the stakes to life and death. As always, Rorby can be counted on to present realistic reactions and appropriate outcomes for her young characters. Lost in the River of Grass provides plenty of action, romance, facts about the natural world, and provocative social issues to satisfy both Rorby's young readers and the adults who have come to count on her sensitivity and storytelling magic.
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Format: Hardcover
From the outset, a feeling of subtle menace pervades Lost in the River of Grass, an aspirational middle grade novel, in which fourteen year old Sarah Emerson, unpopular in the private school her parents have dreamed she attend, ditches a field trip for an airboat ride in the steaming Everglades with Andy, a boy she's just met. Sarah's female classmates -- the "swamp Barbies"-- have been sneering, a window stuns a flying bird, the science teacher lectures on the dangers of cottonmouths, a gator eats a blue heron, and Sarah is given pause by the prominent display of the Confederate flag in Andy's father's shed.

Certain they'll be back by lunch time, Andy and Sarah take only Gatorade and snacks, and Sarah ignores Andy's cover-all clothing recommendations in favor of something cooler and "hot" looking. When an unwitting mistake sinks the boat, the two kids have no recourse but to walk back to civilization through a shallow river world teeming with razor grass, mosquitoes, and hidden predators. This page-turning story, told in present tense in Sarah's voice, has admirable economy, spot-on-dialogue, and riveting wild life descriptions.

A satisfying survival story on its dark surface, it also works profoundly in two other ways. The psychology of the characters opens across the ordeal. Andy overcomes his initial despair to lead and comfort, only to find himself dangerously needy and silently terrified. Sarah begins the journey diffident, incredulous, angry, and beside herself, and finds fierceness, equanimity, resourcefulness, and strength. In a typical survival tale, it is enough to resolve the original opposition of people versus the elements, and provide the reader a travelogue of vicarious and educational thrills.
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Format: Hardcover
Every so often, a book hits all the emotions of the reader and makes you sigh as you turn the last page. This was one of those books.

Ginny Rorby creates two kids who are just outside the margins of society - Alex lives an isolated life off the beaten path and Sarah who is scorned and taunted by a small group of popular girls on a weekend field trip (who hasn't been taunted like that?) We immediately identify with the main character, Sarah, and feel her pain and isolation in the midst of a group of mean kids. She isn't looking forward to yet another day of taunting. Of course she sneaks off for a boat ride with the charming Alex. What could go wrong? Unfortunately the boat sinks and they get stuck out in the middle of the Florida everglades and have no choice but to try to navigate their way out - no spoiler here - it happens in the beginning of the book.

Rorby wrote this book in first person present tense - something that always to seems to bring a story more to life, or perhaps it was just her artful prose that did that. She brings to life the danger of the everglades as well as the beauty of it as she writes 90% of the book as a narrative of Sarah and Alex's journey out. You can feel the mosquitoes buzzing, feel the blisters on the feet, feel the hunger and thirst they struggle with. Rorby brought the scene alive through use of all the senses.

This book is a great book for young adults and those who are young at heart ... or someone who just loves an excellent journey through a book well crafted.
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