Where do we go when we are so lost in thought or creative endeavour that time no longer seems to exist? This is the journey we take in A River. The stage for this story is set in the endpapers. A little girl sits in her room at her desk surrounded by artifacts from exotic locales, a globe turned to the African continent prominently positioned. She faces a large window which overlooks a river*. She is drawing. Eyes half closed, our intrepid sailor slips away on a silver boat into her imagination and worlds mysterious and unknown. She is awakened to reality only by rain drops hitting her window. It is night. The city is dark but the moon is bright enough to illuminate her ship waiting to take her away once more. A rich piece of visual storytelling evoking wonder and curiosity in adult and child alike.
*The river looks like the Thames to me and interestingly, our narrator’s lines on the opening page, “There is a river outside my window. From where I sit, I can see it stretching into the distance in both directions”, mirror Conrad’s description of the Thames in the opening of Heart of Darkness, “The sea-reach of the Thames stretched before us like the beginning of an interminable waterway”. I couldn’t help but think there are references to HoD scattered throughout A River and would be interested to know if that is what Mark Martin had in mind when creating this visual feast of a book.