Wednesday, April 8, 2015

G: Grand Canyon

Down into more than a valley for the letter G: we're headed down the Grand Canyon!

YA Book Review

Title: Downriver
Author: Will Hobbs
Publisher: Bantam Doubleday Dell. 1991; 204 pages
Source: Thrift shop, years ago

Fifteen-year-old Jessie is on an "outdoor education" program (for kids in trouble), and isn't very happy about it. But when they steal the program's gear and "pirate" a run through the Grand Canyon, it is both better and far worse than she expects. Jessie learns a great deal more, and grows up a lot faster, than her father could have expected.

Okay, Will Hobbs doesn't write great literature. What he does write is exciting stories for and about teens that take place in amazing places, and generally force the characters to do far more than they could ever have believed possible. The river-running scenario for this book does just that. Not only does Jessie find out just how much she can do, she also learns to what extremes some of the other students will go when things take a truly frightening turn.

The writing is fast-paced and smooth. It may be a bit formulaic--I could certainly tell from the beginning which of the boys was trouble, and which worth cultivating--but the book has a clear appeal for kids, and possibly equally for boys and girls. Though I will say that while I liked and could empathize with the female narrator, she definitely struck me as not feeling entirely female (maybe why I liked her--I'm pretty much a tomboy myself and never have exactly thought or acted like a girl). In fact, I think it's one of the nice things about the book--though the female narrator is interested in the boys and is in fact hoping that she can be a couple with one, the book wastes essentially no time on mooning and obsessing about the boys.

I'll give this one a positive mark, both because it was a fun and exciting story and because it ultimately depicts some strong female characters who manage to take charge of their own lives.

I'm not sure what age to say for this. It feels more YA to me, but it is in fact entirely "clean" and has no inappropriate situations (well, aside from the whole premise that a bunch of high-school age kids could or should steal some boats and run the Grand Canyon without permits or any idea what they are doing). For adventure lovers of whatever age, perhaps.

Full Disclosure: I bought my copy of Downriver, and received nothing from the writer or publisher in exchange for my honest review.  The opinions expressed are my own and those of no one else.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


And now for the obligatory photos, though I have none of the river: I haven't ever been to the bottom of the canyon. But the view from the North Rim: 
North Rim Visitor's Center overlook
North Kaibab Trail. Still only a few miles from the top here, in the side canyon. We hiked about 2-3 miles down and back up.
Sunset over the canyons.
For really great reading about the Canyon, see John Wesley Powell's Exploration of the Colorado River and it's Canyons (1874), and Colin Fletcher, The Man Who Walked Through Time  (1968). Also, of course, Brighty of the Grand Canyon, by Marguerite Henry (1953) for the youngsters and lovers of equines.


  1. Grand Canyon Awesome, a place I would love to visit. Great photo's. I'm in Glastonbury today.

    1. You've some lovely photos yourself! Pretty different landscape, though :)

  2. We love to read Will Hobbs books in elementary, middle, and high school here in Texas - I like the way he writes and he does appeal to our kids. I've not read this book but seems to be a perfect time to intro it to the kids - with summer right around the corner. Thanks so much. Visiting from AtoZ

    1. I've read several of his books, and they are great adventures.

  3. Grand Canyon is awesome, and the Bright Angel Trail is an easyish walk for the medium fit - but not in the middle of the day unless you're acclimatised! I had a wonderful day or so at the bottom, but all so long ago!

    1. I still haven't hiked more than that little bit down into the canyon. It's on the list...

      Bright Angel trail from the North Rim is a lot farther than from the south, but the trail is definitely good all the way. It was nice and wide and didn't bother me at all even when cliffy,

  4. Ninja and Librarian? That's an instant follow.

    Nice to meet you, Rebecca!

    2015 A to Z Challenge Co-Host
    Matthew MacNish from The QQQE

  5. I intend to read this. I often work with middle school kids who absolutely hate to read, but this sounds like it's exciting enough to capture their attention. Plus it can tie-in with info on the Grand Canyon. Thanks for the review!

    1. Yes, I could see this working for kids like that (in a way, it's about kids like that). And the book is pretty good on info about the canyon without getting all guide-book on you.

  6. Working my way through A to Z. Lovely photos.

    1. Thanks! There sure are a lot of blogs to look at. I do my best, but never get to more than a fraction of them.

  7. I've been looking for YA books for reluctant readers. This one seems like a good choice. Thanks!

  8. Will Hobbs is always a good read for MG/YA. Your pictures are beautiful. Thanks for sharing on the Kid Lit Blog Hop.


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