‘I wish I could see the sea’, Cam said to his Grandfather, who promptly replies ‘One day we will go there’.
But curiosity gets the better of the young boy and when he sees a trickle of water on the hillside among the trees he sets off to follow it down the mountain to see where it leads.
Cam takes us on a journey through the forest, farms, into towns, and past factories until he reaches the sea which ‘was wild and blue and beautiful.. and it went on forever.’
Song of the River is beautifully illustrated by Kimberly Andrews, who grew up in the mountains of Canada, and this is clearly reflected in the muted colours as well as the details among the pages. We see owls and squirrels hidden in trees, a sleeping bear, as well as beautiful forest flowers.
The story was originally published 25 years ago but this exquisite hard cover edition will bring joy to another generation of children as they learn how a trickle of water becomes a creek, a rushing stream, growing into a river which flows into the sea. Andrews’ art shows the reader where frogs and fish live among the rocks in the water, and the variety of boats included increases the children’s understanding of the importance of water transport.
Kimberley Andrews lives in a converted shipping container tiny house in Wellington. She illustrated Explore Aotearoa, and the first book she wrote and illustrated Puffin the Architect published in 2018, won the inaugural NZ Booklovers Best Children’s Book 2019.
Joy Cowley’s story is a wonderful tale which children can relate, and Andrews’ illustrations have breathed new life into all the pages, and I can imagine children and adults spending time exploring the details. The graphic map showing the river flowing from the mountains to the sea is also a nice inclusion on the inside front and back cover.
My grandchildren and I have loved this book, being drawn into the adventure as the voice of the waterfall sang, ‘Yes, yes. Come with me. I will take you to the sea.’
Reviewed by Lesley McIntosh
Song of the River
by Joy Cowley, illustrated by Kimberly Andrews
Published by Gecko Press