A tour of the world’s great rivers, bedizened with hundreds of images and notes on regional geography, history, folklore, culture, and natural history.
Goes proceeds continent by continent in a series of grandly scaled—if, geographically, more impressionistic than precise—maps. They are aswirl with stylized humans (of different races and often in stereotypical garb) and more naturalistic renditions of iconic structures, vehicles, monsters, deities, geophysical features, and flocks of wildlife both marine and terrestrial. These lively, largely monochromatic visuals are glossed in printed blocks that bend as sinuously as the rivers around which they are arranged. The Belgian illustrator lingers longest over Europe, but, along with the usual riverine suspects there and elsewhere, he does map several that are less traveled in U.S. children’s books, such as Papua New Guinea’s Fly River, New Zealand’s Waikato, and the Onyx in Antarctica. Besides describing each river’s course from source to sea and highlighting select features, the author frequently wanders further afield to add factoids, personal opinions (“Belgian fries are the best in the world”), and even bits of fancy, such as the revelation that there is a “secret spot at the South Pole where snowballs winter over,” all via Nagelkerke’s translation from Flemish. Though generally positive in tone, he does mention “gyres” of “plastic soup” in the Pacific, oil spills in the Niger Delta, and that New Orleans was once “the country’s largest slave market.”
A broad, shallow, teeming torrent of facts and marvels: Readers tempted to take a dip will be swept irresistibly along. (Nonfiction. 7-11)