A River's Gifts: The Mighty Elwha River Reborn
A mighty river. A long history.
For thousands of years, the Elwha river flowed north to the sea. The river churned with salmon, which helped feed bears, otters, and eagles. The Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, known as the Strong People located in the Pacific Northwest, were grateful for the river's abundance. All that changed in the 1790s when strangers came who did not understand the river's gifts. The strangers built dams, and the environmental consequences were disastrous.
Sibert honoree Patricia Newman and award-winning illustrator Natasha Donovan join forces to tell the story of the Elwha, chronicling how the Strong People successfully fought to restore the river and their way of life.
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About the Author
Natsha Donovan is a self-taught illustrator from Vancouver, BC, with a focus on comics and children's illustration. Her work has appeared in two anthologies: The Other Side, edited by Melanie Gillman and Kori Handwerker, and This Place, published by Portage & Main Press. She illustrated the award-winning children's book The Sockeye Mother by Brett D. Huson and the graphic novel Surviving the City by Tasha Spillett. She has a degree in anthropology from the University of British Columbia and has worked in academic and magazine publishing. She currently lives in Bellingham, Washington. Natasha Donovan is a member of the Métis Nation of British Columbia.
"The Elwha River flows north through the Pacific Northwest of the U.S. and is the traditional lifeblood of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, 'the Strong People.' In the 1790s, Sibert Honor Book author Newman (Sea Otter Heroes, 2017) explains, colonists came, cleared the wild plants from the riverbank, and cut down the trees to make homes. Worst of all, in 1910, a dam was built on the river to create electricity--electricity not provided to the Strong People--that flooded their land and killed the salmon and other wildlife. Newman then describes unexpected change as the Strong People fought to have dams on the Elwha removed, a fight they ultimately won, and the careful process of working to safely restore the river ecosystem to its prior health. Effectively using a compelling story to illustrate the concept of rewilding, this informative, striking presentation is powerful in its hopeful story that integrates history, environmental appreciation, and explanations of the interdependence of species in a landscape and the politics necessary to save them. With inset fact boxes on the Strong People's creation myth and related themes, and with all set on a backdrop of Donovan's beautiful pen, ink, and computer-generated images of the river, its people, and its wildlife, Newman could have another award winner on her hands."--starred, Booklist-- "Journal" (9/15/2022 12:00:00 AM)
"A river. A desecration. A rebirth.
Writing in stirring verse, Newman explains that in what is now Washington state, the Elwha River flowed north to the sea, nourishing the salmon that came each year to lay eggs. There were enough salmon to feed the birds, the animals, and the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, the Strong People, for thousands of years. But when Europeans arrived in the 1790s, they cut down ancient trees to build houses near the river and wrote laws declaring that Strong People couldn't fish or own land. In 1890, dams for generating electricity were built, effectively destroying the river and keeping the salmon from returning. In 1940, Olympic National Park expanded its boundaries to include the dams, and the Strong People worked together to restore the lost river and its habitat. The removal of two dams--the Glines Canyon Dam and Elwha Dam--took years of perseverance and cooperation among the Strong People, the National Park Service, and scientists. It was 2011 when the dams were finally removed; several years later, the rushing river called the salmon home again. Donovan's illustrations, rendered in pencil and ink and digitally, are dynamic, with thick black outlines that pop off the page. Sidebars elaborate on elements introduced in the main text. Beautifully illustrated and informative, this story conveys the fragility of our environment and the need to protect it.
An illuminating glimpse at the Elwha River and its gifts."--starred, Kirkus Reviews
"This stunning new picture book tells the story of dam removal from the Elwha River in Washington state. While nonfiction, this book reads as a story, telling the history of the river. Until 1790, the Elwha River nourished the land. The river is a life force for all flora and fauna. The Lower Elwha Kllalam Tribe, also known as The Strong People, depends on the river and provides not only food but is the creation site of their people. In 1790, white settlers came to the area and took over the land. Looking to create towns, they built dams on the Elwha to provide people with electricity, but not the Strong People. This created huge problems, especially for the salmon, which stopped coming. The Strong People fought for years to have the dams removed and finally won. Scientists worked together to ensure the dam removal would help the environment in the best way possible. No one knew if the river would return fully to nourish the land. Then, five months after dam removal, the first salmon returned. This book is an absolute must for any classroom or library, especially those in the Pacific Northwest. Riddled with rich information, teachers can use this resource in specific content areas. The book contains embedded vocabulary and definitions in the artwork. The language is elevated yet readable. The artwork, The artwork, done by a Métis illustrator, is gorgeous and enhances the writing perfectly. The book also contains diagrams woven into pages that explain the science of the river and the culture of The Strong People. Every detail in the book is attentive to the storytelling, including the inside cover map art, comparing the river in 1950 and 2020. This book is an absolute gem and should not be missed."--Children's Literature-- "Website" (10/27/2022 12:00:00 AM)