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Books  >>  Kids Books

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

The Secret River

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings The Secret River
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Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings + Leo and Diane Dillon = pure magic!

A depression era story that is just as timely as it is enchanting, this is a stunning picture book for the ages.

There’s just not enough…not enough money, not enough food, not enough fish for her daddy to sell at the market. Hard times have come to the forest, but Calpurnia wants to turn them back into soft times. With her little dog Buggy Horse and a tip from old Mother Albirtha, the wisest person in the forest, Calpurnia finds a secret river and uses the pink paper roses from her hair to catch enough beautiful catfish to feed the whole swamp land —with some left over for Daddy to sell. When she tries to find the river again the next day, Mother Albirtha tells her, “Child, sometimes a thing happens once, and does not ever happen anymore….You caught catfish when catfish were needed…you will not find the river again.” This story by the Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Yearling and literary icon Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings is about living in a time of want, yet it is overflowing with riches—stunning language, mystical happenings, wondrous, wondrous artwork. Beautiful in all ways that a book can be beautiful, this unforgettable picture book is a classic in the making.

The Secret River

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, illus. by Leo and Diane Dillon, S&S/Atheneum, $19.99 (56p) ISBN 978-1-4169-1179-1

The Dillons (Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears) bring new life to Pulitzer Prize–winner Rawlings's (The Yearling) absorbing story, first published post- humously in 1956, when it received a Newbery Honor. Calpurnia's father's fish-selling business is failing, so she goes to Madame Albirtha, ""the wisest person in the forest,"" for advice. ""Will you tell me where I can catch some big fish,"" she asks, ""so that hard times will be soft times?"" Calpurnia's day at the secret river produces a groaning load of catfish, but the big predators of the Florida scrub want their share, too. Sensitive, cheerful, and full of courage, Calpurnia survives every threat, brings home her prize, feeds the town--and discovers an unexpected facet of Madame Albirtha's wisdom. Mesmerizing patterns and colors distinguish the Dillons' spreads, which balance large, captivating panels with smaller vignettes clustered around the text. Their acrylics are a foray into magical realism (when Calpurnia invents a poem about befriending bees, her hair becomes a tangle of purple flowers thick with the insects), and their portraits are always true to Rawlings's imaginings. Not to be missed. Ages 4–8. (Jan.)

--Publishers Weekly, November 8, 2010, *STAR


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