River my friend.
William Bell. Illustrated by Ken Campbell.
Grades 1 - 5 / Ages 6 - 10.
Gang-gang, the son of a poor fisherman, takes the first step toward maturity in River my friend, William Bell's second picture book. Set in an unidentified Asian location, this simply-told story is illustrated effectively, evoking the tropics by using warm, rich gold and yellow tones contrasted with cool blues and greens.
Bell takes the reader through Gang-gang's family's struggle to make ends meet and their brief encounter with modest "wealth" when a rich woman generously pays them for fresh fish. Gang-gang begins to understand his family's plight and is determined to help out, only to come close to suffering a tragic end to his life.
All turns out well, however. Gang-gang catches the "entrepreneurial spirit" which is necessary to his family's survival and moves toward young adulthood in the process.
The author skilfully uses lyrical language and appropriate imagery reminiscent of traditional folklore but, at the same time, he successfully carries out a theme relevant to contemporary families as well. Illustrator Ken Campbell complements this fine story with refreshing portraits of a loving family, capturing their emotions and daily activities in lovely full colour, and using a variety of points of view.
Fans of William Bell who enjoy his thoughtful works for middle years and young adults will be impressed with his new venture into writing for younger folks.
Elaine Seepish is an Information Specialist, Instructional Resources, Manitoba Education and Training.
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Copyright © 1996 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
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