Rivers of Wonder is the seventeenth collection of children's writing and art published as part of Special Forever: An Environmental Communications Project, a partnership between the Murray-Darling Basin Authority and e:lit - the Primary English Teaching Association. The people who live in the Murray-Darling Basin are directly affected by Australia's 'droughts and flooding rains', in fact by every weather event that passes across our vast continent. This year has been no different, with drought still having a deep impact on lives and livelihoods throughout the many regions of this river system, and the Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria rounding off the seasonal cycle with a disastrous flourish. As the grown-ups defend their property and try to anticipate the weather's next move, the children are looking on.
And what they see, they draw and write about. With only a nudge from their teachers, poetry pours out of them, and stories, and historical research, and predictions for the future both fearful and hopeful. Hand them a paintbrush and they'll show you the birds they see, the lizards, the landscapes, the small furry animals, the farm machinery, their smiling families, their mates mucking about on the riverbank. They make models, too, and they take photographs. They're fully engaged, and this anthology, like the others before it, is just one offshoot of that engagement.
Another product is a strong consciousness, not only of the beauty, danger and outright fun of their environment, but of their own and their communities' obligations. They feel a strong need to preserve the good things about the Basin and reduce the ongoing impact of poor environmental decisions made in the past. There are many cries of woe in this book, about the damage that's been done by humans to these magnificent rivers and their surroundings. But there are also expressions of determination, to fix things up, to the change the way we live, to take responsibility for improving biodiversity, valuing water resources and limiting the spread and dominance of invasive species.
With all their concerns for their way of life on the land, kids in the Murray-Darling find time and space to enjoy themselves. They float leaf-sailboats down the Loddon, imagine themselves into a blacksmith's skin, eat a sausage (some people eat two!) at lunch on a farm excursion; they sit with their Nan watching frogs and pelicans in the river, they go mustering on a motorbike. The energy and curiosity they bring to each day's activities and observations comes through in their contributions to this collection of writing and artworks. It's a life-enhancing read - enjoy! (Source: back cover)