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LETTING SWIFT RIVER GO by Jane Yolen Kirkus Star


by Jane Yolen & illustrated by Barbara Cooney

Age Range: 4 & up

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0316968609
Publisher: Little, Brown

The bittersweet story of Quabbin Reservoir, made by flooding a valley--and several towns--in central Massachusetts between 1927 and 1946. Yolen's poetic narration, in the voice of a woman who was six years old when her family learned they would have to give up their home, recalls the tranquillity of a rural community where children fished in the river and picnicked in the graveyard. Then, "it was voted in Boston to drown our towns that the people in the city might drink." Graves are moved, trees cut, homes bulldozed, and the river dammed to cover the little towns and create a new, quite beautiful landscape. Cooney's luminous, exquisitely designed watercolors, in tenderly glowing colors, focus on carefully selected details, like loving memories that retain only the most significant particulars. In the last scenes, the narrator and her father revisit the scene in a rowboat, pointing out underwater landmarks and finally, looking "down into the darkening deep," letting them go. A lovely book about reconciling necessary change with the enduring value of what is lost. (Picture book. 4+)