River Friendly, River Wild


On TV we watch our city where people navigate the river-streets in any way they can....

"Look." Max points. "it's Sarah's house."

All I see is roof.

In searing personal poems, Jane Kurtz explores what it's like to struggle through a flood and pull your life together afterward. Inspired by Kurtz's own flood experience, this tale is realistic and unforgettable. Not just a ...

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On TV we watch our city where people navigate the river-streets in any way they can....

"Look." Max points. "it's Sarah's house."

All I see is roof.

In searing personal poems, Jane Kurtz explores what it's like to struggle through a flood and pull your life together afterward. Inspired by Kurtz's own flood experience, this tale is realistic and unforgettable. Not just a moving story of one girl's courage, River Friendly, River Wild is a tribute to everyone who's ever faced great loss.

A family experiences a renewed appreciation for home and community after they are evacuated during a spring flood and then return to survey the damage.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The illustrations are glowing. Portrayals of the family and the neighborhood emphasize closeness and working together, underlining the message of community and cooperation."
School Library Journal

"A book about the nature of home, community, and picking up the pieces."

"Offer[s] a clear sense of what it's like to live through a flood"
Horn Book

"Powerful...an evocative look at recovery from personal loss."
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

From The Critics
From the perspective of a young girl experiencing the power and devastation of the Red River Valley flood of 1997, Jane Kurtz uses a diary format of poetry to capture with visual imagery the ranges of emotions transpiring in Grand Forks, North Dakota. The Red River Valley, "stitching North Dakota and Minnesota together" is but one example of the rich descriptive language which describes for us the visual image of the area. The river as a companion to the people living in the valley is an integral comforting part of their lives, history and culture. Kurtz shows that the river running wild changes this relationship forever. Kurtz begins her poems with the events of the April beginnings of spring. In almost surreal progression, it is shocking to realize that a blizzard, flood and fire have transpired over the span of only one month. By May, a life once known to all has changed forever. Set in the neighborhood of Lincoln Drive, a close-knit community where you could borrow a cup of sugar from anyone, the flood brings families even closer together as they desperately work to preserve their special community. The sandbagging, and packing, just in case, foreshadows the events to come. Kurtz has used not only her own experiences, but a composite of those from her family and friends. The accompanying illustrations and use of color and light throughout the book are beautiful. The warmth of the friendly river is seen in golden hues, the sharp feel of the blizzard is found in the precise white brush strokes against a dark sky. The changed river threatening to cross the dike is represented in a double page spread in ominous thundercloud gray. Soggy, slimy artifacts from homes on the street cornerhave a flat, mudlike appearance. The light and hope represented throughout the tragedy are found in the friendships and lives not lost. The support of the Red Cross, FEMA, and countless volunteers are acknowledged during the text without invalidating the little girl's feelings of sadness and hate at the river for her losses. The book closes with the thought that although some tangible memories are gone forever, there are new memories to be made. Three glass Christmas angels have been found intact and will serve as a reminder to hold tight to the old memories. The final text and illustration shimmer and glimmer in complete harmony. This is a marvelous book not only for flood victims of the Red River Valley, but for children and adults alike experiencing the devastation of natural disasters. Effective as an educational tool, River Friendly River Wild might serve very useful as a bridge for teaching children in our country about natural disasters around the globe. This book is highly recommended for all ages as a read-a-loud, a reflective silent read, and as an important educational resource. 2000, Simon & Schuster, $16.00. Ages 6 up. Reviewer: Stephanie Harty — The Five Owls, May/June 2000 (Vol. 14 No. 5)
School Library Journal
Gr 2-5-This collection of poems tells of a child's experiences during a flood that sweeps through her town, forcing families to evacuate. The unnamed girl describes the creeping water, the hard work of making sandbags, the wrench of being forced to leave her beloved cat, and the crowded shelter where they watch the devastation on TV. While her Mom spends the next few weeks making "-lists/of everything she might have lost," the child worries about her pet. When they can finally return to the town, they drive past piles of sodden belongings and houses made dangerous by flood damage. To the child, the missing animal represents all she has lost, just as the unexpected finding of three intact glass Christmas tree angels represents survival to her mother, and foreshadows the eventual return of Kiwi, who has been rescued by a neighbor. The illustrations, done in oils overlaid with layers of oil glazes, are glowing and paradoxically warm, showing the devastation of the flood while managing to soften and mitigate its harshness. Portrayals of the family and the neighborhood emphasize closeness and working together, underlining the message of community and cooperation. "This was one terrific neighborhood," says dad, and as the family prepares to "make new memories" and stick together "wherever in the whole world we are," the words overlaid on a palely drawn but identifiable glass angel reassure readers that despite natural disasters, families can survive.-Marian Drabkin, Richmond Public Library, CA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Esmé Raji Codell
Feelings of confusion, fear, loss, and ultimately hope are sensitively written in free verse against a backdrop of powerful illustrations depicting the ravages of nature and the process of rebuilding.
Bookbag Magazine
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416934875
  • Publisher: Aladdin
  • Publication date: 3/6/2007
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 711,462
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: AD400L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 10.00 (w) x 0.20 (h) x 10.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Jane Kurtz

Jane Kurtz is a highly acclaimed author of books for young readers. Her picture books include Fire on the Mountain, which was an honor book for the Marion Vannett Ridgeway Award, and Only a Pigeon, which won a Parents' Choice Gold Award and an African Studies Association Award. Her first novel, The Storyteller's Beads, was named one of the best books of 1998 by several reviewers. Kurtz and her family lived in a FEMA mobile home for many months after losing their house in the 1997 Red River flood. They now live in a different house in Grand Forks, North Dakota.

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