A River Ran Wild: An Environmental History

by Lynne Cherry

Hardcover, 1992



Local notes

E Che




Harcourt Children's Books (1992), Edition: 1st, 40 pages


An environmental history of the Nashua River, from its discovery by Indians through the polluting years of the Industrial Revolution to the ambitious clean-up that revitalized it.


Kentucky Bluegrass Award (Nominee — Grades K-3 — 1994)
Read Aloud Indiana Book Award (Intermediate — 1993)
Children's Favorites Awards (Selection — 1992-1994)


Original language


Physical description

40 p.; 11.26 x 9.29 inches

User reviews

LibraryThing member AbigailAdams26
Author/illustrator Lynne Cherry traces the history of New England's Nashua River in this engaging natural history picture-book, chronicling the many changes in human activity that have affected the health of this fluvial ecosystem. From the days in which it ran clean and clear - so clear that the
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pebbles on the river-bed could be seen from above, thus explaining its original native name, the Nash-a-Way, or "River With the Pebbled Bottom" - through its first harnessing (in order to power mills) during colonial times, and then its use as a dumping ground for waste during the Industrial Revolution, Cherry charts a trajectory that leads ever downward. Until, that is, the 1960s, when an activist named Marion Stoddart decided she had to do something...

Chosen as one of our September selections over in The Picture-Book Club to which I belong, where our theme this month is "ecosystems," A River Ran Wild is part history, part science, and all parts engaging. I appreciated the contrast drawn between the Native American way of interacting with the natural world, and the European (and then Euro-American) way - complementary versus adversarial - as I think this clarifies why environmental degradation was allowed to take hold, and to continue for so long in this country. The artwork is lovely, and I enjoyed looking at both the larger paintings on each two-page spread, and the decorative borders, with the many animals and items mentioned (or hinted at) in the narrative. All in all, an excellent picture-book examination of the the history of one river, one which offers some sobering facts, but also some inspirational figures! I think I need to learn more about Marion Stoddart...
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LibraryThing member tnelson725
This picture book follows the history of New England's Nashua River. Hundreds of years ago, the river was plentiful and fertile when natives settled beside it. Over time people began to pollute the river until, in the 1960s, fish and animals couldn't even be found there. The Nashua River Watershed
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Association helped to pass laws that helped restore the Nashua River.

I liked the illustrations in this book and I think that it would be a great tool to use in the classroom. The only critique that I have is that one some of the inventions that are featured lack dates.

For the classroom, I would use this book during a lesson that teaches kids the importance of recycling and the harm of pollution and destroying the earch. I would have students make a list of five things that they can do to improve the earth. Then the students will share what they wrote with the class.
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LibraryThing member AliciaMJ
Chief Weeawa settled his people next to a beautiful river. The Nashua people lived for generations in the village. They used only what they needed from the land. Then one day a traveler came with medal and beads. The Nashua people began trading. Then settlers came and started cutting down trees.
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They tell the Nashua people not to trespass. The Nashua people try to fight for their land. But the settlers guns are too much. Factories are built and start polluting the river. The polluted water begins to kill the animals. Then one day a Nashua elder had a dream about the river. He and the Nashua people and the many settlers that now lived by the river decided to sign a petition. And the factories were forced to stop. The river took years to become healthy again but is now beautiful once again.

The illustration in this book were really good. This story was informational and interesting.

In the classroom the students could discuss the Native American culture and the obstacles they went through. The class can also discuss what they could do to help prevent pollution.
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LibraryThing member matthewbloome
Like The Great Kapok Tree, this was a great book. The focus is different is this one, instead being on a river that progresses from pre-colonial inhabitation to the present. The river undergoes a transformation from pristine to choked with pollution while its inhabitants undergo a transformation
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from respectful symbiotic members of the river ecosystem to unthinking destructive users of the river to educated careful stewards of the river. Its overall tone is hopeful, but it does make the reader think about how people's misuse of the natural environment can have severe and lasting impacts on the quality of life for everybody.
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LibraryThing member mrspriest
An environmental history of the Nashua River that runs through Massachusetts and New Hampshire. It tells the story of how the river was discovered by Indians and then polluted through the years if the Industrial Revolution. Then some people decided to clean it up and the river was restored.
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Instructional Use:
When working with my students I would use this book for science and social studies. We could discuss the harmful effects of pollution on the environment for science, as well as the industrial revolution for social studies. Correlates with NAD standard LA.4.RI.3
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LibraryThing member Cheryl_in_CC_NV
I dunno. Important, interesting, lovely... but just kinda randomly superficial. Step by step through the history of the river, yes. Exploration of the entire ecosystem of the river, including the humans, yes. Lots of details in the sketches in the borders of relevant context, yes. Discussion of
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some of the strategies of the activists that saved the river, yes. But I never felt engaged, and I never felt like I was actually learning anything that meant anything to me - despite the fact that, of course, I totally care about clean rivers.
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LibraryThing member wichitafriendsschool
From the author of the beloved classic The Great Kapok Tree, A River Ran Wild tells a story of restoration and renewal. Learn how the modern-day descendants of the Nashua Indians and European settlers were able to combat pollution and restore the beauty of the Nashua River in Massachusetts.




½ (25 ratings; 3.7)
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