A River's Gifts

The Mighty Elwha River Reborn

  • Interest Level: Grade 3 - Grade 6
  • Reading Level: Grade 4

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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Interest Level Grade 3 - Grade 6
Reading Level Grade 4
Genre Picture Books, Science
Category 5 Kinds of Nonfiction, 5KN: Narrative Nonfiction, STEM, STEM: Earth Science, STEM: Life Science/Animals
Copyright 2023
Publisher Lerner Publishing Group
Imprint Millbrook Press ™
Language English
Number of Pages 48
Publication Date 2022-09-06
Text Type Narrative Nonfiction
BISACS JNF037070, JNF018040, JNF076060
Dewey 639.909797/99
Dimensions 9.25 x 11
Lexile 950
Guided Reading Level W
Features Author/Illustrator biography, Author/Illustrator note, Awards, Bibliography/further reading, Original artwork, Reviewed, Starred Reviews, Teaching Guides, Timeline, and eSource

Author: Patricia Newman

Patricia Newman wants us all to know we are part of nature. As a Robert F. Sibert Honor recipient, she shows us how our actions ripple around the world, empowers us to find our own connections to nature, and encourages us to use our imaginations to act on behalf of our communities. Patricia likes to think of her books as a contribution that helps make the world a better place for the next generation. Her nonfiction titles have received multiple starred reviews, Orbis Pictus Recommended Awards (NCTE), Green Earth Book Awards, several Eureka! Awards from the California Reading Association, and most have been included in the Bank Street College's Best Books of the Year lists. To learn more, visit her website at patriciamnewman.com or connect with her on social media.

Illustrator: Natasha Donovan

Natasha Donovan is the illustrator of the award-winning Mothers of Xsan series (written by Brett Huson). She illustrated the graphic novel Surviving the City (written by Tasha Spillett), which won a Manitoba Book Award and received an American Indian Youth Literature Award (AIYLA) honor. She also illustrated Classified: The Secret Career of Mary Golda Ross, Cherokee Aerospace Engineer which won an Orbis Pictus Honor Book and an American Indian Youth Literature Award (AIYLA). Natasha is Métis, and spent her early life in Vancouver, British Columbia. Although she moved to the United States to marry a mathematician, she prefers to keep her own calculations to the world of color and line. She lives in Washington. www.natashadonovan.com

Narrator: Katie Anvil Rich

Lerner eSource™ offers free digital teaching and learning resources, including Common Core State Standards (CCSS) teaching guides. These guides, created by classroom teachers, offer short lessons and writing exercises that give students specific instruction and practice using Common Core skills and strategies. Lerner eSource also provides additional resources including online activities, downloadable/printable graphic organizers, and additional educational materials that would also support Common Core instruction. Download, share, pin, print, and save as many of these free resources as you like!

A River's Gifts

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… View available downloads →

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Post from Danielle Carnito, Sr. Art Director, Trade Some of my favorite things intersected recently: Making Books Art & Design The Olympic Peninsula Travel How so, you might ask. Let me tell you! Making Books It starts with books, as many good things do. I do enjoy making books.… View →

A River’s Gifts: An Interview with Author Patricia Newman

The story of the Elwha River in Washington State is one of both environmental harm and restoration involving advocacy, persistence, cooperation, and hope. Author Patricia Newman and illustrator Natasha Donovan tell this story in the new nonfiction picture book A River’s Gifts: The Mighty View →


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  • Washington Library Association Towner Award Nominee, Nominated, 2024
  • Green Earth Book Award Longlist, Long-listed, 2023
  • Sigurd F. Olson Nature Writing Award Honorable Mention, Commended, 2023
  • Booklist Top 10 Environmental & Sustainability Books for Youth, Winner, 2023
  • Cooperative Children's Book Center (CCBC) Choices, Winner, 2023
  • AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books, Long-listed, 2023
  • Orbis Pictus Award Recommended Book, Commended, 2023
  • Children's Book Committee at Bank Street College Best Children's Book of the Year, Winner, 2023
  • ALA Notable Children's Book, Winner, 2023
  • Kirkus Best Books of 2022 for Picture Books, Winner, 2022
  • SCBWI Russell Freedman Award for Nonfiction for a Better World, Short-listed, 2022
  • Center for the Study of Multicultural Children's Literature Best Books of the Year List, Winner, 2022
  • Eureka! Children's Book Award, Winner, 2022


Children's Literature Comprehensive Database (CLCD)

“An absolute gem and should not be missed.”—Children’s Literature


“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.”—starred, Booklist

Kirkus Reviews

“Beautifully illustrated and informative.”—starred, Kirkus Reviews