Wild River by Rodman Philbrick

Published by Scholastic Press

Amazon.com: Wild River (9781338647273): Philbrick, Rodman: Books

Summary:  A whitewater rafting trip turns into a survival nightmare for five middle school students when a dam breaks and they barely escape the floodwaters.  With their adult leaders gone, the group breaks into two factions, starting a war over who will lead until they are rescued.  When this conflict results in tragedy, the kids realize they have to put aside their differences if they are going to survive.  Facing wild animals, injuries, and a dwindling food supply, they learn each others’ secrets and vow that their friendship will last if and when they are rescued.  Includes tips for surviving in the wilderness.  193 pages; grades 3-7.

Pros:  The short chapters, non-stop action, and cliffhanger chapter endings will keep even the most reluctant readers engaged.  Narrator Daniel’s secret about his father’s mental illness adds an interesting dimension to his character.

Cons:  Due to the short length of the book and the focus on the action, the characters weren’t all that well-developed, particularly Tony, who had a pivotal role in the story.

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