THE KENNEBEC RIVER by Louise Dickinson Rich
Kirkus Star


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Youngsters growing up in the other forty-nine states can acquire the background of a Down Easter by reading this Child's History of Maine, which starts on the banks of the Kennebec (hardly ""one of the great rivers of the world"") and spreads to encompass the state from prehistory to the present. With a light, loving touch and the knowledge of a native, Mrs. Rich passes from Oyster Shell families picnicking during the Stone Age to the agrarian Abenakis, threatened first by Viking incursions and later by the settlers coming to the inhospitable new land in search of lumber, furs and fish. The focus narrows to individuals: the indomitable French missionaries who converted the Indians, incidentally recruiting allies for the forthcoming French and Indian Wars; the captives taken during those conflicts, some of whom chose to remain with their captors; William Phips, one of twenty-six children of a salt-water farmer, who became the Royal Governor of Massachusetts; Benedict Arnold's ragged band, braving the ""hell of the winter wilderness"" to reach Quebec in the state's only Revolutionary engagement; the shipbuilders and sea captains who found a profitable outlet for their energies in the China Trade; William King, the barefoot boy whose incredible initiative (cotton mills, potatoes, apples) made him a millionaire and the first Governor of Maine. Even the industries have individuality: here is the folklore and folly of logging; the cutting and publicizing of ice (""Clean, safe and solid""); turning debris into dollars with cobblestones and driftwood. But local language, it's cheerful as baskets of chips, bright as crickets (and a model of modest young-scholarship).

Pub Date: Jan. 19th, 1966
Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston