Holly Webb is well-known for her puppy and kitten stories for younger, newly competent readers; and for her Maisie Hitchins mystery series and so many others. All are a delight to read, capturing young hearts. Here now is something a little different. Touching on environmental themes and the effects of climate change; a story to mesmerise animal lovers everywhere…
THE STORY OF GREEN RIVER
author: Holly Webb
illustrator: Zanna Goldhawk
Orion Childrens Books (1 September 2022)
The river is high, again. The beavers’ dam needs fortifying against its’ incoming water. Silken is too small, too weak to help rebuild the dam, and her strange singing makes the practical and strong beavers feel uneasy. When she is blamed for an accident, she knows she will never truly belong there. And something calling her. She must take hold of her courage and embark on a dangerous journey up the river.
Young Sedge is the reluctant heir to the leadership of the Greenriver otter holt. His first spring he was nearly drowned in a flash flood that swept through the otter community, taking away much of what they knew; what they had of comfort and security. And now, the waters are rising again. Sedge believes he can save his holt from another flood, but he has to be brave enough travel downstream for help. As the two animals unknowingly swim towards each other, they are drawn to the heart of the river, its’ age-old song and the spirit of Greenriver, who takes the form of a snow-white otter, Lady River. But will Lady River hear their plea for safety?
An adventure that holds many twists and turns, dangerous encounters and a deep connection with the natural world, The Story of Green River is a real beauty! Here we meet characters not unlike ourselves, filled with social structures and constrictions, rumour and suspicion, with much to learn and experience and the heart to do it. Silken and Sedge are both quite young. They show the boldness, mischief and determination of that youth, but every step of the way, they must seek help from those older and more experienced if they are going to save their communities…and in the end, themselves. But it is the rashness of their youth, which has a wisdom of its’ own that brings them to their destinies and opens up the space for the old ways to be honoured, the new ways to be practiced and joining of both.
Holly Webb has a real knack for showing us the natural world in all its’ subtlety and nuance. The descriptions of the area put the reader right in the centre of the story. We gain a true sense of the woodland and river animals; their needs for survival, their lives in the world. She combines this with a sense of who we are as people through her use of personification. There is community and a path for understanding the other (though it may be difficult and rub against the grain, at times.) Every character, every space is fully imagined and well-rounded; made with a real sense of commitment to the tale. Beautifully written; captivating; filled with compassion, subtle humour and great adventure; a simply wonderful animal tale that will win your heart. For fans of her previous work, yes; but also for those who love books like Watership Down, Tarka the Otter, The Animals of Farthing Wood. https://www.hachette.co.uk/titles/holly-webb/the-story-of-greenriver/9781510109629/