Bad Day at Riverbend

( 2 )


Riverbend was a quiet little town, the kind of place where one day was just like all the rest and nothing ever happened. Occasionally the stagecoach rolled through, but it never stopped, because no one ever came to Riverbend and no one ever left. The day the stagecoach stood motionless in the center of town, Sheriff Ned Hardy knew something was terribly wrong. What was the mysterious substance on both coach and horses? It would not come off. Soon it was everywhere in the tidy little village. Something had to be ...
See more details below
Hardcover (Library Binding)
$17.95 price
(Save 10%)$19.95 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (51) from $1.99   
  • New (13) from $7.60   
  • Used (38) from $1.99   
Note: Kids' Club Eligible. See More Details.
Sending request ...


Riverbend was a quiet little town, the kind of place where one day was just like all the rest and nothing ever happened. Occasionally the stagecoach rolled through, but it never stopped, because no one ever came to Riverbend and no one ever left. The day the stagecoach stood motionless in the center of town, Sheriff Ned Hardy knew something was terribly wrong. What was the mysterious substance on both coach and horses? It would not come off. Soon it was everywhere in the tidy little village. Something had to be done, and Sheriff Hardy aimed to do it.

When Sheriff Hardy investigates the source of a brilliant light and shiny slime afflicting Riverbend, he finds that the village is becoming part of a child's coloring book streaked with greasy crayons.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"It's a book that starts with one point of view and steps into another. The average bildungsroman acoomplishes this kind of transition in several hundred pages: Van Allsburg does it in thirty-two." Kirkus Reviews with Pointers
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's 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. (Oct.)
Children's Literature - Dr. Judy Rowen
Author/illustrator Van Allsburg delights in tales that tread along the borders of reality. His latest offering is no exception, but unfortunately the story is sparse and aimed at children too young to enjoy the shifting perspective. Riverbend is beset by some awful presence, which leaves the townsfolk and the surrounding area smeared with greasy, slimy marks. At the end of this standard "sheriff rides out with posse to save the day" story, we realize that Riverbend exists only in a coloring book, and that a young child's scribbles are the scars marring the town. This book does not invite repeated readings.
Children's Literature - Deborah Zink Roffino
The imagination of this noted children's author (Polar Express, Jumanji) is mind-boggling. The storytelling comes from a sheriff with a serious problem on his hands-his posse is being streaked with greasy orange slashes that seem to come from a light in the western sky. Actually, the book is drawn to look like a coloring book and those waxy stripes all over the cowboys and horses are crayon marks made by a youngster. What a humorous and enriching opportunity for kids to seee things from another point of view. But hide the crayons-coloring may be irresistible.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 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
Carolyn Phelan
This may not be a book to "re"read, but the central joke is clever the first time through, and children will want to share it as soon as they figure out what's happening. Set in the Old West, the story concerns certain strange phenomena: a blinding light that freezes whatever it touches and, when the light has passed, marks of "greasy slime" on horses, buildings, cattle, and even people in the frontier town and surrounding countryside. For most of the book, the artwork consists of bold, black outlines of figures on a white background, brightened in spots with loosely scribbled lines of color resembling a small child's crayoning. In the last few pages, the picture broadens into a shaded, full-color scene of a small child crayoning in a cowboy coloring book. Pair this with Elizabeth MacDonald's "John's Picture" (1990), in which the characters in a child's picture draw their own companions and setting.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780395673478
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 10/28/1995
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 634,268
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: AD680L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.50 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.13 (d)

Meet 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 was nominated for a 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.


Multiple Caldecott Medal winner Chris Van Allsburg grew up in the 1950s in and around Grand Rapids, Michigan. He majored in sculpture at the University of Michigan's College of Architecture & Design and graduated in 1972. He received his M.F.A. in 1975 from Rhode Island School of Design.

After graduate school, Van Allsburgh set up a sculpture studio in Providence, married and settled in the area, and began exhibiting his work in New York City and throughout New England. Around the same time, he became interested in drawing. His wife, Lisa, encouraged him to pursue children's book illustration, putting him in contact with her friend David Macauley, a successful artist and author. Macauley's editor at Houghton Mifflin was impressed by Van Allsburgh's work and advised him to try his hand at illustrating a story of his own. His maiden effort, The Garden of Abdul Gasazi, was published in 1979 and received a Caldecott Honor Medal.

Since that auspicious beginning, Van Allsburgh has gone on to produce a string of wonderfully inventive, critically acclaimed, and award-winning books. He gathers inspiration from unlikely quarters -- the progress of ants across a kitchen counter, crayon streaks in a child's coloring book, a children's board game come to life -- and executes his ideas on a provocative but surefire "What if..." principle.

Among his many awards are two Caldecott Medals -- one for Jumanji, written in 1982 and the other for 1985's The Polar Express; a National Book Award (also for Jumanji); and the Regina Medal for lifetime achievement in children's literature.

Good To Know

Van Allsburg's grandfather owned and operated the East End Creamery and delivered milk and milk products to homes around the Grand Rapids area in yellow and blue trucks.

One of Van Allsburg's childhood homes was a big, Tudor-styled house on a wide, tree-lined street. He used the street as a model for the cover art of what is arguably his most famous book, The Polar Express.

Because so many students at Van Allsburg's high school excelled academically, representatives from the University of Michigan would visit each year to interview interested seniors and admit them on the spot if they met qualifications. During his senior year, Van Allsburg was told about the art program affiliated with the University's College of Architecture & Design and thought it sounded like fun. Although he had never had any formal art classes, he fibbed to the admissions officer, saying he had taken private lessons outside of school.

Two of Van Allsburg's bestselling books, Jumanji and The Polar Express, were subsequently turned into blockbuster movies.

Van Allsburg is not your typical "feel good" children's author. He has been known to handle darker themes, and his stories often involve bizarre worlds and dreamscapes.

In all his stories, Van Allsburg inserts a little white bull terrier modeled after a real-life dog owned by his brother-in-law. (Another popular children's author, David Shannon, does the same thing, but Shannon's pup is a Westie!)

Read More Show Less
    1. Hometown:
      Providence, Rhode Island
    1. Date of Birth:
      June 18, 1949
    2. Place of Birth:
      Grand Rapids, Michigan
    1. Education:
      University of Michigan College of Architecture & Design, 1972; Rhode Island School of Design, MFA, 1975
    2. Website:

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 2 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2002

    I was hooked! I was curious!

    I do admit that I was hooked about what the slime could possibly be! I laughed so hard when I finished reading the story and discovered what the slime was! As always, Chris Van Allsburg, is very clever in the story. A must read for kids and adults.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 8, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)