A succession of forest creatures—and even the river itself—learn from one another and validate their relationships with both one another and the wider world.
The simplicity of the text and the stylized, comical creatures belie the depth of the message that comes through for even the youngest of readers: We are all in this together, and our differences strengthen our unity. The river “didn’t know it was a river…until” Bear accidentally begins riding down it on a piece of broken tree trunk. Bear in turn doesn’t realize he is on an adventure until Froggy lands on his back; lonely Froggy doesn’t know how many friends she has until the wary Turtles show up on the ever-more-swiftly-moving log; the Turtles learn how to enjoy the ride when Beaver climbs aboard; and so on through several more characters until they are all at the brink of a waterfall. Outstanding art perfectly complements the text, showing the animals’ differing personalities while also using color, space, and patterns to create appealing scenery. There are several hilarious double-page spreads, including one from the animals’ collective perspective, showing solely the various feet on the tree-trunk–cum-raft at the waterfall’s edge, and one requiring a 90-degree turn, showing the plummeting animals as they reach for one another—some looking worried and others, like Duck and Beaver, obviously enjoying the sudden drop.
To quote one particularly joyous double-page spread, “Oh, what a ride!” (author’s note, illustrator’s note) (Picture book. 2-5)