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A River Ran Wild: An Environmental History
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A River Ran Wild: An Environmental History

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  332 Ratings  ·  53 Reviews
From the author of the beloved classic The Great Kapok Tree, A River Ran Wild tells a story of restoration and renewal. Learn how the modern-day descendants of the Nashua Indians and European settlers were able to combat pollution and restore the beauty of the Nashua River in Massachusetts.
Paperback, 32 pages
Published April 1st 2002 by HMH Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 1992)
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Aug 04, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
This story was selected as one of the books for the September 2012 - Ecosystems reads at the Picture-Book Club in the Children's Books Group here at Goodreads.

I nominated this book because I discovered that it was about the Nashua River and discusses the area where I grew up. For my entire childhood, I lived on River Road, less than a quarter mile from the river as the crow flies. As I grew up in the 70s and 80s, I saw the river undergo quite a transformation, but even then, we would never want
Lisa Vegan
This is a terrific book for activist kids or as a motivator to show how a very few people can make a very big difference in making the world a better place. I would have appreciated some extra material in the back with ideas for kids, with more detailed information about the clean up efforts, etc.

I absolutely adored the illustrations, both the large paintings on one side of the page and the tiny miniature paintings on the other side of the page. The two maps are also done well, and I always enj
By turns beautiful, tragic and inspiring, this is the story of the Nashua River from the time the first native peoples discovered it, through European-American colonization, to the pollution of the industrial revolution and beyond, the destruction, and finally the restoration thanks to the efforts of Marion Stoddart and the Nashua River Cleanup Committee in the 1960s.

The illustrations are very nice. I appreciate how the larger picture shows the changing river conditions, while the border around
Rachel Hoeck
Mar 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
A River Ran Wild by Lynne Cherry is an informative nonfiction childrens book. The book begins with a timeline of major events of the Nashua River Valley, then dives into a narrative. It begins by talking about the different creatures living in the forest where the river is. Then, it informs the reader about the native people who settled by the river. The took only what they needed from nature to survive and let everything else be. Then came the white skinned settlers. They hunted more then they ...more
A River Ran Wild: An Environmental History by Lynne Cherry is the story of a successful local campaign to combat pollution due to human activity, manufacturing, and waste dumping, and to restore the beauty of the Nashua River in Massachusetts.

Cherry's illustratins are done in watercolors, colored pencils and Dr. Martin's watercolors. Pciture show the changing river conditions, including buildings, bridges, trees, roads and factories. Detailed borders show animals, tools, farm implements, manufa
Jan 28, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: mc-literature
This was an interesting book because it demonstrated the Native American culture and the history of how they lost their land to the English settlers, while also educating how the Nashua River suffered environmentally from this. The illustrations show a Native American village and include smaller illustrations of tools the Native Americans used. This book is based on a true story and accurately depicts what the Native Americans went through during this time in our history. I also like that the bo ...more
Sep 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Like The Great Kapok Tree, this was a great book. The focus is different is this one, instead being on a river that progresses from pre-colonial inhabitation to the present. The river undergoes a transformation from pristine to choked with pollution while its inhabitants undergo a transformation from respectful symbiotic members of the river ecosystem to unthinking destructive users of the river to educated careful stewards of the river. Its overall tone is hopeful, but it does make the reader t ...more
Oct 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: environmental readers
Recommended to June by: Children's Books (Goodreads Group)
I enjoyed this more than The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rain Forest. Maybe because it was non-fiction it didn't strike me quite as didactic. I also enjoyed the hopeful nature of the book that one person can create a movement and make a difference; that a dying river can be brought back.

My one criticism is that since it is a children's book, I wish Cherry had included something about the 500 youths who worked for 5 months clearing trash from the riverbed and banks in the story and not
Billy Noecker
Sep 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
A beautiful story authored and illustrated by Lynne Cherry detailing efforts to clean up the Nashua River and return it back to its beauty.. The river used to be beautiful, but it has become polluted. Descendants of the european settlers and the Nashua Indians come together to clean up the river and return it to its original beautiful form.
Aug 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
Great book to use in the classroom as a springboard to persuasive writing.
The book describes colonization and the effects it had on the ecosystem . For example it takes about the pollution of rivers when factories were built. To describe how colonization started and what happened in the years to follow. The book is very accurate to history.
Graham Lazar
Jun 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Written by Lynne Cherry, author of "The Great Kapok Tree," this is a seminal text of children's environmental literature. With these two texts, Cherry has positioned herself as one of the leading voices in the genre.

"A River Ran Wild" is a rare bread within the genre, as it is both a traditional cautionary tale of human wastefulness as well as a story of collaboration and human redemption. The text relates the story of the Nashua River watershed of Massachusetts, which was symbolic of tragic ep
Jul 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Lynne Cherry is an exceptional writer: She focuses upon environmental issues and writes books children can understand AND LIKE!

This book focuses upon the discovery of the Nashua River during pre-colonial America and becomes a timeline of how the river was used ... and abused ... and restored .... until modern day. We see how the early Europeans settled and used the river, changes and pollution brought forth by the textile mills of the Industrial Revolution, how the river was considered "dead" fr
Jan 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: budding environmentalists
Recommended to Joan by: June Krell
This clearly is not on the same level of poetic writing as The Kapok Tree but it wasn't meant to be. This is straight nonfiction. But it does a great job of what the author meant it to do. She tells the story of a specific river, its beginnings and degradation, then the repair of the ruined river. Since the author is also the illustrator, the pictures and text work perfectly together, complementing each other with new info. Around one page are illustrations of the various animals that live along ...more
Lindsay Bunchman
This is a great book to read when addressing environmental issues with students. The story helps students question whether the progress made during the industrial revolution was worth the environmental cost. It is particularly relevant to teach now while the U.S. deals with the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The happy ending in the book could be encouraging to students living in the Gulf area right now, since they will be able to see that it is possible over many years to recover from such a disaster ...more
Brittny Nguyen
Nov 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book is an informational text that can be used with 3rd-4th grade. The book is about a river that was used as a resource to survival for Native Americans. The story goes into details on how settlers moved in and slowly destroyed its resources by polluting the water with their factories, cutting down all the trees, killing all the animals, and so forth. Eventually as the years passes, advocators protested to help revive the river to its natural state - and they won! I really enjoyed this boo ...more
Jourdan Aanenson
This story is the story of how Native Americans settled in the land of America first and how they were conqured by the English settlers.

This is great book to use in a classroom with Native American students. This relates them to where they came from and why Native American people are so important. The use of the pictures in this story are great because they show what Native American people did when they first made their settlements in American. This book can make Native American students feel we
Brooke Devarennes
I love this book because it really shows how humans impact the environment. It also includes illustrations of various objects and they are all labeled (teaching how to label objects in a picture). This is great for social studies because the book starts with the Native Americans and explains the tools they used, what food they ate, etc. It progresses into more sophisticated tools, different people living in the area, European influences, New Century, and The Industrial Revolution. It focuses on ...more
Jonathan Andrew
Mar 29, 2016 rated it it was ok
This book is a historical book about the Nashua people. They were native people who settled near modern day Mt. Wachusett by a river they named Nash-a-way (which means River with the Pebbled Bottom). The story follows these natives as foreign settlers come and disrupt their lives and the industrial revolution ruins the beautiful river that once hosted life and clear waters. Eventually, laws were passed and pollution changes were made, and the Nashua River is clean once again. This book was inter ...more
Faye Johns
Aug 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A great one day read for any age! Based on true events. Simplified for all levels of readers. This story is about the Nashua River in New England. How it was polluted during the Industrial Revolution in America and how a dedicated group of people worked to clean it up. This is a perfect story for teaching themes of Native American history, nature conservation, restoration, and civil action. No protests, just taking your issue to those in political power. I totally plan to have my students read i ...more
Jan 16, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
A gorgeous, richly illustrated book about the Nasseau River. The details in the illustrations make this a book kids can get lost in. It's also a true environmental story with a happy ending-- the rare kind of story that kids need to hear to feel hopeful and empowered.

My only complaint is that although Cherry made it clear that the Nasseau Indians were the first people to settle on the banks of the river, she still used the word "settlers" to mean White settlers. Not only is this racist, it was r
Jun 06, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommended to Steve by: Learn United, Real Men Read
Real Men Read assignment. A tough book to bring to life for 3rd graders.
An 'agenda' book that basically views western industrialization as the root of all problems.
One thing that was nice is that each page covered one period of history with many pictures representing that period. This gave the chance to focus the kids on one or two topics per page.
Not my favorite book to try to entice kids to read.
Karen Siddall
Oct 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a wonderfully, intricate little book! A simple story of success and hope for the environment... and one that won't give little ones a sense of doom and imminent disaster. Several pages of full-size illustrations and each text page is bordered with interesting and intricate drawings of items representational of the time. So much to look at with so much detail!
Audrey Harlan
Apr 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: social-studies
This is a great book to use when teaching about the environment and its history. The book discusses the history of our world and how people have affected it. Students could perform a fun activity while reading this book. The book really hits home when it talks about the things people have done to damage it. It also discusses what we can do to help.
Bethany Emmons
Feb 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book was a lot of fun to read. It is a non fiction book which was surprising. I found it surprising because it was very kid friendly. This story shows students that when people come together they can make big changes. Students would find this book fun and interesting because they can learn a lot from it and understand how things were when Indians were around and to present time.
Jan 26, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: kids-lit
This one is for fourth grade and younger. I can't see this one replacing If You Give a Mouse a Cookie..., but it does offer a good message and the pictures are good, plus the border has a lot to look at. Tells the story of a river in the northeast which has suffered over the years thanks to pollution and the efforts to clean it up.

Alexandra Chauran
Feb 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book was way less of a downer than the rest of the environmentalist books of this genre. This is the story of a real river that got polluted and nasty which, prompted by a dream, was cleaned up again. It was a little long for my three year old, but was still enjoyable.
Nov 28, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: social studies teachers
Shelves: childrens
good story about the effects of humans on nature. great illustrations. i use this book with my elementary teacher candidates to demonstrate an interdisciplinary approach to teaching history/geography with literature.
Aug 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
The book began a bit on the heavy side, but got better as it went. Yes, people can and do do destruction to natural places (unfortunately), but there are also people who help to make positive changes. This book gives the full gamut. The illustrations were a beautiful addition to the story.
Barbara Brien
Sep 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
Having grown up in town built upon the Nashua, this story hits home. I recall being told that the fish in the Nashua could not be eaten, that the water in the river was dirty. It makes me glad that someone cared enough to clean it up.
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