“River” by Dr. Calvin James

“River” by Dr. Calvin James 683 1024 Reader Views Kids


Dr. Calvin James
Calvin James Creates (2024)
ISBN: 978-1737178972
Reviewed by Diana Coyle for Reader Views (06/2024)

When Renly was a baby, he didn’t know of his own existence yet in “River” (Tales of the Mother & the Son) by Dr. Calvin James.  As he got a bit older and more cognizant of his surroundings, he gained a sense of what his existence was because his mother, Mary, taught him about the creatures that lived within their water currents, and the homes where each of these creatures lived. He learned that each one had a purpose to live, and each one had their own current that would play a huge part in how the environment survived. Each generation would pass their currents onto the next generation, and this cycle would continue indefinitely.

As Renly got older, he still desperately wanted to be a river and tried everything he could to make his current strong enough to be a river. Unfortunately, no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t reach his goal of becoming the strong river he wanted to be. When he had his son, Cayden, he finally knew what his true life calling was.

I want to first say that I have never read a story this creative in theme. The whole idea of people being water currents and the currents helping the environment to thrive and grow because of generations of people that have passed was an absolutely unique idea to write about. It was so different in nature that I read it twice to ensure I was grasping all the nuances within. The thought of a child striving to become a river current as he grows up is distinctive and imaginative. I found myself cheering Renly on and I hoped that one day his dream would become a reality.

I love how the themes of love, friendship, kindness, respect, and hope rang through each and every page. The author diligently wrote his message and entwined each of these aspects into the story. In doing so, he was teaching the readers that they should emulate Renly to want to continually better themselves because everyone around them benefits from their growth. I thought this was a wonderful way to teach the lesson to his readers.

The illustrations provided throughout the story were enjoyable to look at and were provided by Jordan Pizzuti. The muted earthy colors of the different environmental pictures such as the water currents, trees, and insects added to the overall understanding of the storyline the author created. These illustrations were also very distinctively drawn to match the unique storyline presented to the readers.

Overall, I feel that “River” (Tales of the Mother & the Son) by Dr. Calvin James is one in which children ages 11 or 12 might find most appealing. Due to their deeper cognitive understanding, I believe they will catch the inferences to the more complex storyline the author had intended. I feel because of the highly unusual style of this book, older children will find the deeper meaning of this story much easier to grasp than a younger child might. However, this doesn’t mean the story shouldn’t be enjoyed by young readers as well.  Parents will find this to be full of teachable moments to share with their children.


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