The River by Tom Percival

The River uses beautiful imagery to help children deal with grief. We’re huge fans of Tom Percival’s picture books and his stunning illustrations combined with a simple lyrical text will give comfort to young readers who may be coming to terms with loss. It’s an emotive story about friendship, grief, healing and kindness.

The River - Story Snug

The Story: Rowan loves playing outside with his dog and particularly loves being by the river. But one cold winter Rowan’s dog dies and the river freezes. Rowan feels cold and alone and his parents find it hard to comfort him. But rescuing and caring for an injured bird helps Rowan start to come to terms with his loss.

The frozen river represents Rowan’s grief after the death of his beloved dog. Poignant images show the situation unfold, the dog’s death is only shown in the illustrations and not mentioned in the text. It’s a fabulous example of how words and pictures work together to tell a story and shows that often images can be more powerful than words.

Rowan is a kind, sensitive boy who loves being outdoors but his rural childhood is disrupted by the loss of his pet and his inability to deal with his grief. The river is a character in its own right and provides a metaphor for Rowan’s emotions. It isn’t the same each day – sometimes it’s calm. Or playful. Or angry. But as Rowan comes to terms with his loss he realises that, just like the river, his own emotions are ever changing.

We love Tom’s stunning illustrations which take us through each season as nature helps Rowan start to heal.

The River is a heartwarming, though provoking story that can be used to stimulate conversations about love and loss at home or in the classroom. At some point many children will experience grief and the story sensitively helps them to understand these feelings. It offers reassurance that just like the river, our emotions constantly change. 

Age Range: 3 +

Author / Illustrator: Tom Percival

Thank you to Simon & Schuster for providing a Netgalley review copy of this story of hope and healing.

8 thoughts on “The River by Tom Percival

  1. Grief in the young is so very difficult, losing a pet is like losing a family member, I like how this book is helpful in understanding this difficult emotional turmoil.

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