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A River Ran Wild: An Environmental History Paperback – April 1, 2002

4.9 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Cherry traces the ecological evolution of New England's Nashua River--how it was respected by generations of Indians, polluted and ultimately deadened in the wake of the industrial revolution and restored in recent years through the efforts of concerned citizens. She delivers this message with a heavier hand than she used in The Great Kapok Tree ; her writing is more complex and ponderous, and less accessible and inviting, than in the earlier work. While this book provides a solid history, it does little to bring the issues or pivotal figures to life. The colorless account of the citizens' battle to clean up the river, for example, reflects little of the passions and energy involved. Though not her best work, Cherry's illustrations tell the story more effectively. (One allegorical painting of an Indian chief's head--superimposed on trees--crying into the river, however, jars with the naturalistic style.) Of particular benefit are the handsome, intricately detailed borders that surround the text: depictions of various period artifacts provide artistic interest and added information. Ages 6-10.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Grade 1-4-- In the 15th century, when native people first settled on the banks of the river now called the Nashua, it was a fertile and beautiful place. By the 1960s, the river valley had been ravaged by many years of serious pollution , and fish, birds, and other animals were no longer seen in the area. Through the efforts of Marion Stoddart and the Nashua River Watershed Association, laws were passed that resulted in the restoration of this river and the protection of all rivers. The author gets high marks for documenting the negative impact of industry on the environment and for highlighting the difference one determined person can make. However, young readers lacking historical background need more facts and dates than are included here. Cherry uses borders on pages that detail, for example, some of the inventions conceived in the 19th century; inexplicably, most are labeled but only some are dated. Her note and the maps on the endpapers, which include a timeline, also help to place the events in context. The watercolor and colored-pencil illustrations are sweeping in their subject matter and adequately convey the physical deterioration of the watershed. However, one picture is misleading; although all the animals depicted live in this habitat, they would not all be seen together. The current concern over the environment will make this a sought-after title, since it is brief enough to read aloud to groups of children. With assistance from informed adult readers, it makes an important contribution to literature on water pollution. --Ellen Fader, Westport Public Library, CT
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 7 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Paperback: 40 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers; 1 edition (April 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0152163727
  • ISBN-13: 978-0152163723
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 0.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #42,476 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I used this book with my third grade class when they were studying the effects of water pollution on a large body of water. They had already studied Native Americans in second grade and this book just blended the two subjects together. The step by step portrayal of man's harm to the Nashua River helped my children learn about how they were harming the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. Lynne Cherry is a fantastic author and presents two great subjects that are highly interesting to children. Any teacher that teaches either Native Americans or water pollution should include this book in their lessons!
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By A Customer on March 15, 1997
Format: Hardcover
This is a beautiful book! The illustrations are breathtaking and it follows an almost "illuminated" type of text structure, similar to that found in "The Mitten" by Jan Brett. Each page is bordered by illustrations of items pertaining to the period in history that the page is depicting - the implements used by Native peoples, animals that live by the river, inventions of the Industrial Revolution, etc. There is much more to talk about on each page than just the environmental theme of the book. This book would fit well in units about Native people, progress/inventions, ecology, water habitats, etc.

A must-have for classrooms, homes, and teachers
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Format: Hardcover
This book was given to me at age 12. I am now 17 and it is still my favorite. I will never outgrow the beautiful pictures, or the very important lesson it teaches. Every page is expertly laid out, with exquisite paintings depicting the river and the era being discussed. The message of environmental conservation and protection is inspiring. Lynne Cherry makes this vital part of our existence understandable to young children, and even adults, often the harder group to reach. I highly reccommend this book for anyone who wants their children to appreciate the world around them and learn that they can, and should, do their best to save it.
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Format: Paperback
I once taught a multicultural course to high school students. After we had studied Native American culture for awhile, one girl asked, "Can you tell me one progressive thing the Indians did for this country?" I didn't have to answer--the class answered her question. "They taught us respect for Mother Earth."

Lynne Cherry does that in "A River Ran Wild: An Environmental History." This is the true story of a natural people who lived along the banks of the Nashua River in Massachusetts in the 1400s. They called it the Nash-a-way, or River with the Pebbled Bottom. They hunted only what they could eat and asked forgiveness of the animals they killed; they took only what they needed, living in the rhythm of forest and river life.

Lynne Cherry added a wonderful artistic design to every other page by squaring the text and placing in the loop items relevant to the story. For example, the page about Native Americans building a village and hunting what they needed, she draws utensils, arrowheads, baskets, vegetables--infusing the story with rich detail. On the opposite page is a full-color depiction, in this case, of village life.

When the trader comes, he brings knives, pots, kettles, cups, beads, and finally a trading post. The text about farms is surrounded by farm implements, livestock, inventions of the time--just like a flat-surfaced diorama. There is so much to look at, to study.

The Nashua was still healthy, but in the 1800s millers started damming it. The Industrial Revolution finally began spilling its sputum into the pure waters. By the 1960s the river was dead.

It took the instigation of Marion Stoddart, who started the Nashua River Cleanup Committee in 1962, to begin a grass-roots campaign to clean up the river.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a boy, I swam in this river, above the polluted parts of course. I was hoping for more photographs. The text was good, but should have included photographs to convey the realism. It's one thing to read about the smell of the stuff in the river, but seeing a photo of a dying fish floating by would have been better. The story of it's clean-up was not, in my opinion, adequately portrayed. It took a long time, and much devotion to see it through.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I love this book. Found it from an elem. ed course I am taking on social studies. I read it to my 5yr old and it brings up great questions to talk about during read and after. Gives kids an idea of change and continuity and a sense of timelines in history all while showing effects of pollution and how humans can either do good or bad things with their choices. Not in your face about topic but subtle and engaging.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A wonderful, wonderful book. It shows, without politicizing, the decline of a river over time, and then the restoration of the river back to health. It gives insight into the Native Americans philosophy about revering nature and using only as much as you need. The book then follows the health of the river through the industrial revolution and modern times - up to the point where descendants of the Native Americans who first discovered and named the river mobilize others in a community effort to save it. Excellent book.
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A great book that weaves US history, Native American heritage, and modern-day environmental concerns, into one small - but great book. Lynne Cherry is a talented author and I have found her books to be a great resource in my classroom.
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