Customer Reviews for

Letting Swift River Go

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2006

    A beautifully written and illustrated book

    Gr 2-5- Sally Jane, who grew up in rural western Massachusetts, recalls her childhood and how it was changed by the creation of the Quabbin Reservoir from 1927-1946. Life for Sally Jane is quiet and consists of walking to school, fishing, picnicking on tombstones, sleeping under trees, and catching fireflies in jars. Then one day her life is forever changed when it is decided that her town among four Swift River towns - Dana, Enfield, Prescott, and Greenwich - will be drowned so that water can be damned and piped to the city of Boston. Through the eyes of this young girl we watch the process of clearing and moving of the town¿s features. Sally and her father take trips to watch the Windsor Dam and Goodnough Dike being built. Years later, father and daughter return to the Quabbin Reservoir in a rowboat and point out landmarks of their past lives in their submerged town. There is a touch of sadness in the story, but in the end, reconciliation when Sally Jane remembers her mother¿s words from the past, told to her after catching fireflies in summer, ¿You have to let them go Sally Jane.¿ She ¿looked down into the darkening deep, smiled, and did.¿ Jane Yolan does a good job at recalling early 20th Century rural life but she does not candy-coat the harsh realities of the story¿s main event, such as the moving of graves and human remains, and Sally Jane¿s sense of loss at the drowning of her town. Jane Yolan¿s gentle poetic narrative is harmoniously united with Barbara Cooney¿s beautiful watercolor illustrations. They highlight key elements from the text that will help children understand the story.

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