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Ste-e-e-e-eamboat a-Comin'!    by Jill Esbaum & Adam Rex order for
Ste-e-e-e-eamboat a-Comin'!
by Jill Esbaum
Order:  USA  Can
Farrar Straus & Giroux, 2005 (2005)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Jill Esbaum's succinct verses take us back in time to the arrival of a steamboat 'in a sleepy village on the Mississippi River' in 1867. Adam Rex's lovely, old-fashioned paintings finish setting the scenes. When someone spots the 'Ste-e-e-e-eamboat a-Comin'!', it energizes all the folk who live in that river town.

There it is ... a 'Floating palace, / white and red, /chimneys belching overhead.' After the packet's arrival, the phrases of the verses neatly turn into labels on the pictures of goods delivered - like 'Belts and buckles, / long johns, / shoes, / upstate papers bringing news.' And all too soon, it's time to 'Stoke the furnace, / ring the bell, / coil the lines and wave farewell.'

In an Author's Note at the back, Jill Esbaum speaks of reading Mark Twain's Life on the Mississippi, and tells us that she hoped to capture the impact of a steamboat's visit and a river town's dependence on it as a lifeline. She succeeded admirably in Ste-e-e-e-eamboat a-Comin'!

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