Riparia's River

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When Gretchen, Jason, Mark, and Daphne find their favorite swimming hole filled with green slime, they are horrified. A mysterious, almost magical naturalist named Riparia helps the children understand why the water became polluted—and together they figure out what they can do to bring clean water back to the river they all love.

This lively story about non-point source pollution is filled with both information and action. Realistic, lush ...

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When Gretchen, Jason, Mark, and Daphne find their favorite swimming hole filled with green slime, they are horrified. A mysterious, almost magical naturalist named Riparia helps the children understand why the water became polluted—and together they figure out what they can do to bring clean water back to the river they all love.

This lively story about non-point source pollution is filled with both information and action. Realistic, lush illustrations by Olga Pastuchiv illuminate the children's passion for their river and the ecosystem it supports.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In an environmental story that's part cautionary tale, part call to action, Caduto (the Keepers of the Earth series) introduces four children who are puzzled when they discover their river swimming hole is filled with "green stuff" and "smells like a sewer." Walking upstream, they encounter Riparia, a wise woman who tells them her name means "of the riverbank," and cautions them not to swim, since the river "isn't well." She delivers an accessible ecology lesson, pointing out birches that shade the water to keep its temperature cool enough so fish and insects can thrive. However, she also reveals that chemicals and manure from a farmer's fields are polluting the water. When Riparia proffers a solution to protect the water, the kids galvanize the community to take action. Pastuchiv's (Minas and the Fish) earth-toned paintings are dappled with light; her human characters have a rough, sketchlike quality, particularly compared to the more precise portrayals of wildlife and lush vegetation. Ages 8–12. (July)
Children's Literature - Beverley Fahey
This science lesson wrapped inside a story and accented with soft watercolors will be a welcome addition to a primary grade unit on the environment and habitats. Four children are distressed over the algae infestation at their favorite swimming hole along a river's bank. Searching up river for a cleaner spot they meet the mysterious Riparia (Rye-PEAR-ee-ah) who tells the children the problem stems from a framer's run off of manure and fertilizers. Without a buffer, the river will continue to die. The children convince the farmer's daughter to talk to her dad who, it turns out, is willing to make changes if they do not cost too much and he has help with the work. In the weeks that follow the eager children and the farmer erect a barbed wire fence as a buffer and the farmer promises to plant his corn 100 feet from the river next spring. In time more people begin to help by planting vegetation that attracts more birds, insects, and wildlife. Two years later a pristine and thriving river is not only the perfect place to observe a variety of fauna but a great place to swim. Readers may find the story simplistic but they may be encouraged by the fact that even their small efforts, like the children's, can make a difference in helping the environment. The airy watercolors with their dappled light reflecting off the river give center stage to the flora and fauna of the river. Each is identified at the end of the book and readers can go back and look for the birds, insects, mammals, etc. that call the river home. Reviewer: Beverley Fahey
Kirkus Reviews

Children organize to clean up an algae-slimed swimming hole.

A veteran environmental activist, Caduto presents a fictionalized case study in which four children, disgusted at the condition of their favorite pool, follow a mysterious woman named Riparia ("My name means 'of the riverbank,' " she explains) upstream to discover the pollution's causes. Runoff from a fertilized cornfield that goes right up to the river's bank is one, and cow manure is the other—the barbed-wire fence allows a herd of cows to wade into the river, where they do their business. Following Riparia's suggestions, the children persuade the farmer to let them move the field and fences back to set up a buffer zone, then enlist friends and neighbors to plant trees and wildflowers. Cut to two years later, and the pool is clean once again. The well-meaning text concentrates more on delivering message and information than telling a story, but Pastuchiv offers readers plenty to discover for themselves in her impressionistic paintings. Each river scene is generously populated with dozens of identifiable birds, insects and other wildlife—all listed at the end, though without a visual key.

Heavy on worthy message, light on specific method. (Picture book. 7-10)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780884483274
  • Publisher: Tilbury House Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/1/2011
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 5 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 10.20 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 1, 2011

    great resource for learning about river systems and habitats

    Have you any idea what causes pollution in rivers? The fact is that many things can pollute water, but did you know that even natural things which might run off farmland may damage a river? When Jason, Mark, Gretchen, and little Daphne go to a nearby river to swim, they find that it smells like a sewer and is covered with green, slimy stuff. So the four children go up the river to see what's going on. They meet a mysterious naturalist named Riparia, whose name means "of the riverbank." She tells them that planting corn and letting cattle right down to the river's edge allows chemicals and cow manure to wash into the river. This in turn feeds algae which use up the oxygen that river plants and animals need, And it smells bad too!
    Riparia explains that a river needs a buffer of around 100 feet, about as far as Mark can throw a stone, with natural plants to keep down erosion and absorb the fertilizers, thus helping to clean the runoff before it reaches the river. Gretchen is a friend of Amy, the daughter of the farmer whose corn fields and cow pastures abut the river and are hurting it and ruining the children's swimming hole. She suggests that they ask Amy to come swim with them and maybe, when she sees what's going on, she might be able to encourage her father to do something about it. Will Amy's dad listen? Is there anything that the children can do to help save the river, and if so what is it? And can they do it all by themselves or will they need help?
    Everyone wants clean rivers so that we can have good water to drink and nice places to play. Author Michael J. Caduto, who is an ecologist, storyteller, and musician, uses this story to remind us that we all have a responsibility to help keep our rivers clean and that there are things which we can do to achieve that goal. I especially like the non-confrontational approach of Riparia's River. When her new friends learn about the cornfield runoff, Riparia replies, "The farmer can plant his corn, just not all the way down to the water." And later, she cautions them, "You don't want to upset your friend. No one likes to be told what to do." Illustrator Olga Pastuchiv's lush, realistic illustrations nicely illuminate the children's desire to restore an ecosystem badly out of balance. The book is a great resource to help youngsters learn about river systems and habitats.

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