Cover image for River town
River town
Geisert, Bonnie.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 1999.
Physical Description:
32 pages : color illustrations ; 21 x 29 cm
Describes, in brief text and illustrations, a year in the life of a river bank town and the many changes that occur throughout the seasons.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 4.7 0.5 42122.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HT123 .G423 1999 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf
HT123 .G423 1999 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, small towns sprouted up along the banks of America's rivers. Through a year of changing seasons the reader is transported to the days when people's livelihoods were directly connected to the river. The life of the townsfolk is shown to be an accumulation of events both large and small, from a joyous Halloween parade to the frozen river in winter to the threat of damaging springtime floods. Children and adults alike will pour over these pages of intricate etchings, noticing the changes and happenings of day-to-day, season-to-season life lived along a river. As they did in Prairie Town, the Geiserts have once again created a stunning tribute to small-town America as it once was and, to an extent, still remains today.

Author Notes

Arthur Geisert's unique and exquisite etchings have been widely praised and exhibited at the Chicago Institute of Art, among other museums. His work is regularly selected for the Society of Illustrators', annual Original Art exhibition, and his illustrations are now being collected by the Dubuque Museum of Art. He lives in a converted bank in Bernard, Iowa. Bonnie Geisert grew up on a farm near Cresbard, South Dakota, and her childhood adventures there inspired many of the events in her Prairie trilogy. Ms.Geisert now lives in a small town in northern Illinois, where she still revels in beautiful prairie winters.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 1^-3. Pen-and-ink landscapes depict a small river town over the course of a year. One or two sentences at the bottom of each page describe the seasonal activities of the residents and neighboring farmers through the months, as well as the role of the river in the commerce and daily life of the town. The river's impact is dramatic in the winter, when boat traffic has ceased and ice fishing and winter sports thrive, and in the spring, when rising water threatens to flood the community. The illustration of the main street's cafeis particularly charming and true to small town character. However, incidental events described in the concluding page's narrative--e.g., a wedding and a dog stranded atop a roof during the flood--are drawn almost too small to be seen. This slim volume is sure to serve well in primary-school units on community life and on the value of natural resources. --Ellen Mandel

Publisher's Weekly Review

As they did in Prairie Town, the Geiserts explore the changing rhythms of a community throughout the year in written and visual detail, and the results are fascinating. During the fall harvest, trucks, trains and barges carry the town's goods around the world. But come Halloween, the residents are ready to take a break and have fun. Winter brings a frozen quiet to the river-save for the skaters and ice fishers. And with the spring thaw come worries about flooding. Summer once again sees the river and its banks as the hub of activities. Though the text sometimes suggests a setting in the past, Arthur Geisert's crisp, precise ink-and-watercolor paintings contain a few more contemporary touches, assuring readers that river town life has been relatively stable over time. Children will easily absorb the deceptively straightforward information about river town industry and economy. As a clever device, an endnote points out specific stories told in the illustrations (e.g., a boulder rolls down the quarry and causes damage, which is later repaired; a supply of coal is consumed and replenished). Kids and adults can be sure of finding new things upon repeat readings. Ages 4-8. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 1-5-In America's early days, towns sprang up along rivers, providing convenient and vital links to the rest of the world. The Geiserts, with their characteristic attention to the minutia of everyday life, explore the interdependence, connection, and subtle changes in life in one riverbank community. The opening page illustrates the quiet bank before it is settled, but with a turn of the page, its transformation to a bustling town is complete. Through a spare text and panoramic double-page spreads rich in small details, life across four seasons unfolds, beginning with fall: "The river town is busy in the fall. Towboats move barges loaded with coal and grain up and down the river." Readers will be able to locate the events and activities mentioned in the text; in addition, other stories begin to emerge and are developed throughout the book without comment: a wedding, a funeral, a barn burned and rebuilt, a mansion restored, a train derailment, island children taking boats to meet the school bus, a boulder crashing down into a quarry, and even a Halloween witch blown along the river in spring winds. The full-color illustrations are exquisitely drawn in ink so that even the smallest figure is recognizable. The last page alerts readers to stories they may have missed on their initial reading. Reminiscent of the work of Mitsumasa Anno, the art will fascinate children and demand repeat viewings.-Lee Bock, Glenbrook Elementary School, Pulaski, WI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.