Author: Paul Manning
Publisher: Smart Apple Media, 2015
Ages: 8 to 11, Middle Grade
Take a ride down the Mississippi River in this "river adventure" by Paul Manning, from its source at Lake Itasca in Minnesota to its destination the Gulf of Mexico. Learn the river’s early history, from its formation in the ice age 10,000-12,000 years ago and the prehistoric burial mounds built on its shores, to Native Americans like the Ojibwe who hunted the river’s wildlife 7,000-8,000 years ago.
Discover how more recent history transformed the upper Mississippi into a river highway for transport boats, and where the river widens beyond, for steamboats and barges,
dating back to the days of the fur trappers and traders. St. Louis was the
gateway city, which was a stop point for many pioneers traveling west in need of equipment and supplies.
The shores of the Mississippi are rich in nutrients too, for growing corn and wheat. Dams and locks further make the river a provider of hydroelectricity and a source of recreation. Today, cities like St. Paul and Minneapolis benefit greatly, especially in the transport of raw materials and goods. Close to “500 million tons” of cargo are transported yearly.
The river changes as it flows south through the Rocky Mountains and the Great Plains, forming rapids, waterfalls, and a series of lakes. Changing yet again, the lower river is known for its wet climate and flooding, which was perfect for growing cotton in the past, and today is a source of oil for natural gas industries. Onward to the river’s outlet through the wetlands of New Orleans, which is a busy port and cultural hub, a levee is necessary to prevent flooding.
Manning includes maps, photos, a glossary, and a short quiz at the end. The Mississippi River is packed full of interesting details and a nice introduction for young readers.