Letting Swift River Go

Letting Swift River Go

5.0 1
by Jane Yolen, Barbara Cooney

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Relates Sally Jane's experience of changing times in rural America, as she lives through the drowning of the Swift River towns in western Massachusetts to form the Quabbin Reservoir.  See more details below


Relates Sally Jane's experience of changing times in rural America, as she lives through the drowning of the Swift River towns in western Massachusetts to form the Quabbin Reservoir.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Like Virginia Lee Burton's The Little House and the Provensens' Shaker Lane , this felicitous marriage of text and art portrays the impact of modernization on one community. Yolen's gently poetic text tells how the young Sally Jane witnesses the forming of the Quabbin Reservoir in western Massachusetts and, thereby, the unavoidable drowning of her Swift River valley town. Gradually the streets she traveled and the homes she played in are covered by water for the hungry city's (Boston's) needs. Since young readers caring about Sally Jane will see this plight through her eyes, they are sure to grasp the plot's historical relevance. But the author is telling more than a personal or even a regional story here. Sally Jane's mother's words at the book's end, recalled when the girl and her father are in a boat on the now-filled reservoir--``You have to let them go, Sally Jane''--speak wisely to all of us about our pasts. (These words touchingly echo the mother's earlier admonition regarding trapped fireflies.) Despite the somewhat uninspired jacket painting, Cooney's charmingly detailed, childlike and colorful art is the perfect choice for this New England tale. Children will be captivated by her perspective of earlier days, when kids played mumblety-pegsic one word per Web;letsmake an exception--itlooks too odd/rl and walked to school on scenic country roads. A stirring and resonant book. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)

Product Details

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
9.00(w) x 10.00(h) x 0.25(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Jane Yolen is the author of a great number of books for young readers, including How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight. Among her many awards are a Caldecott Medal, a Caldecott Honor, two Nebula Awards, two Christopher Medals, and the World Fantasy Award. She is also a poet and teacher of writing and literature.

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Letting Swift River Go 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.