Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Parents' Choice Awards : Books : Historical Fiction
Three Rivers Rising: A Novel of the Johnstown Flood

Three Rivers Rising: A Novel of the Johnstown Flood

Spring 2010 Historical Fiction
Ages: 12 & Up
Author: Jame Richards
ISBN: 9780375858857
Hardcover Price: $16.99

Everyone who lives around Lake Conemaugh says that one of these days the dam will break. They all say it-the well-heeled businessmen who vacation at the South Fork Club, the villagers down in Conemaugh, the miners further down the river in Johnstown-but nobody really believes it. But in the spring of 1889, people begin to believe. Celestia, running away from her wealthy family to the arms of a miner's son down in Johnstown; her estranged father, desperate to rescue the only daughter he has left; Kate, an embittered widow crossing the mountains by train on her way to a nursing career; and Maura, waiting with her young children for the sound of her husband's train whistle, are all diverted from the dramas of their daily lives by the catastrophic flood waters rushing through the valley and overwhelming the villages beneath the dam.

Richards narrates the historic event of the Johnstown, Pennsylvania flood through multiple perspectives, using easily accessible and musical free-verse poetry. The central story of the star-crossed lovers, rich girl and poor boy, will be a big draw for many young readers (think Titanic-who can resist the combination of class conflict, doomed love, and lots of water?). However, the additional stories which flesh out the reader's picture of the disaster are just as important and interesting-most notable are the nurse who finds her calling in the wake of an emergency and the young wife who loses her husband to publicity after he blows the warning whistle to alert the valley. These poetic portraits give readers fascinating ways to think about this significant event in American history.

Naomi Lesley   ©2010 Parents' Choice
Naomi Lesley taught middle and high school English for six years. She is currently in a doctoral program at the George Washington University, focusing on American young adult literature.

Look for this product at:
Random House Children's Books/Knopf

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