Two beautiful picturebooks which focus on rivers and their surroundings were published earlier this year.
The River, written by Patricia Hegarty and illustrated by Hanako Clulow (Caterpillar Books) follows the epic journey of a little fish from the fresh waters created by melting snow at the top of mountains to the vast ocean. Aimed at preschool children, it offers a lyrical narrative which is accompanied with beautiful illustrations describing life on the river shores. The lenticular technology allows the glittery fish to appear throughout the book, “swimming” as per magic. It is a particularly well-designed introduction to fish migration as well as the environment and distinct habitats, as the narrative draws the reader’s attention to focus on what is happening on the river shores. It is perfectly pitched, with matte illustrations which combine simplicity and depth, allowing the book to be enjoyed on different levels: simply as a lovely story or as an accessible exploration of both the flora and fauna of the habitats showcased in the book. It is a real treat, and I am very much looking forward to Hegarty and Clulow’s next collaboration, Above Below, which is part of Little Tiger Press’s new non-fiction imprint, 360 degrees, which is launching this month.
A River by Marc Martin (Templar) offers a very different take on the journey of a river. The setting is very much an urban one to begin with, and the journey very much an imaginative one, the dream of a little girl who can see the river snaking through the city from her high-rise flat window. Her imaginary journey, on a small boat with a sail, takes her through different landscapes, from factories to farm lands, from valleys to jungle, deeper into Nature at each page turn until she reaches the sea. A River is a wonderful exploration of the landscapes beyond the cities (most likely to be of the Southern Hemisphere); the use of colour is particularly potent, getting increasingly vibrant as the little girl sails deeper into wilder habitats. There is plenty to explore about ecology and the environment within these pages but the book also offers a very interesting exploration of imagination, creativity and finding one’s inspiration, with the endpapers providing a lot of clues as far to what might have inspired her. An unusual and inspiring picturebook.
Source: review copies from publishers