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BIG DAY ON THE RIVER by Sarah Wilson


by Sarah Wilson & illustrated by Randy Cecil

Age Range: 4 - 8

Pub Date: April 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-8050-6787-6
Publisher: Henry Holt

Willie starts out at dawn for a solo raft ride on the Wallawatchee River. She has barely lowered herself on to the tiny craft when a parade of relatives begins. Grandmas, grandpas, aunts, uncles, and cousins all bring her items they think she will need on her short trip. From a lumpy sack of apples to a camp stove complete with a four-pound pot of beans, each helpful item takes up more space and weighs down the raft until Cousin Clyde himself hops on and sinks everything into the Wallawatchee. Once she’s afloat again, Willie thanks everyone but tells them all she needs from them is their hugs, their kisses, and their best wishes. Only then is she able to set out with her two silent duck buddies and her backpack for her planned day. Wilson (George Hogglesberry: Grade School Alien, 2002, etc.) tells Willie’s story with breezy prose dotted and peppered with mountain slang and silly similes. Gramma Em’s watermelon is “heavier than a full-grown raccoon in a washtub” and Cousin Clyde jumps through the air “like a cow riding a cannonball.” Cecil’s (Ugly Princess and the Wise Fool, not reviewed, etc.) sunny, acrylic gouache illustrations feature a happy, clean, country family, all but Willie sharing the same oversized nose. The two work well together. A good tale of a spunky girl for independent or group reading. (Picture book. 4-8)