Children organize to clean up an algae-slimed swimming hole.
A veteran environmental activist, Caduto presents a fictionalized case study in which four children, disgusted at the condition of their favorite pool, follow a mysterious woman named Riparia (“My name means ‘of the riverbank,’ ” she explains) upstream to discover the pollution’s causes. Runoff from a fertilized cornfield that goes right up to the river’s bank is one, and cow manure is the other—the barbed-wire fence allows a herd of cows to wade into the river, where they do their business. Following Riparia’s suggestions, the children persuade the farmer to let them move the field and fences back to set up a buffer zone, then enlist friends and neighbors to plant trees and wildflowers. Cut to two years later, and the pool is clean once again. The well-meaning text concentrates more on delivering message and information than telling a story, but Pastuchiv offers readers plenty to discover for themselves in her impressionistic paintings. Each river scene is generously populated with dozens of identifiable birds, insects and other wildlife—all listed at the end, though without a visual key.Heavy on worthy message, light on specific method. (Picture book. 7-10)