From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 4–This colorful picture book takes readers on a cruise down Old Man River, beginning in Minnesota on Monday: "A little stream among so many streams./A little girl wiggles her toes/in the shallow water and wonders,/How long before we're big and strong, little Mississippi?/How many miles? How many days?" The journey ends on Sunday in Louisiana at the river's mouth, where a boy ponders: "Will I ever see where you start, big Mississippi?/Will I ever tell where you end/and the wide, wide sea begins?" The poetic text highlights a few important locations and historical events along the way. Lessac's primitive gouache illustrations brightly reflect each day's trip, showing children on the riverbanks engaging in interesting activities while barges, steamboats, and tugboats float by. The book opens with a map of the river's entire span, and every spread includes a smaller view of the day's featured area. Two pages of appended notes fill in some details about the places and events referred to in the narrative. Beautifully executed in text and illustrations, this title offers an enjoyable read as well as an educational one. It begs to be used in a unit on the Mississippi, perhaps in conjunction with Jill Esbaum's Ste-e-e-e-eamboat a-comin'!
(Farrar, 2005).– Judith Constantinides, formerly at East Baton Rouge Parish Main Library, LA
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Gr. 2-4, younger for reading aloud. In On the Same Day in March
(2000), collaborators Singer and Lessac highlighted locations around the globe to drive home variations in climate, culture, and landscape. A waterway as mighty as the Mississippi similarly contains multitudes, and here it supports 14 snapshotlike poems charting the river's progress from its source in Minnesota to its Gulf of Mexico delta. In a folk-art style studded with painstaking details (tiny bargeworkers in St. Paul, a baby gator in swampy Arkansas), Lessac captures both the changing environment and the water's chameleon-like shifts in color. Although labeled maps give children a clear sense of the big picture, the premise occasionally seems as cloudy as Big Muddy itself. There is no stable point of view to make the "journey" concrete, and the poems confusingly mix fictional situations and historical references that are reliant on the endnote for clarification. Still, the collection's interdisciplinary applications are numerous, and creative teachers will surely find ways to extend its usefulness both above and below the age level of the core audience. Jennifer MattsonCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved