Project Description


Emma’s River

by Alison Hart
illustrated by Paul Bachem

The year is 1852. Ten-year-old Emma Wright and her mama have boarded the Sally May for a steamboat journey that will take them up the Mississippi River, but nothing could prepare them for the danger and adventure ahead.

When concern over her beloved pony, Licorice Twist, lures Emma below to the main deck―a place that she has been forbidden to go―Emma is shocked by what she encounters. Here is a world completely different than the pampered one above with its comfortable stateroom and fine food. Here livestock and poor immigrants huddle together―underfed, unclean, and exhausted.

Soon Emma is making regular trips below, ferrying food to Patrick, an eleven-year-old stowaway who recently emigrated from Ireland. Slowly, Emma and Patrick develop a friendship that spans classes and ship levels. When the boiler explodes and the steamboat starts sinking, Emma fights her way through the black smoke to find her friends and family. But is it too late?

From the author of the award-winning Racing to Freedom trilogy, Alison Hart brings to life a nineteenth-century adventure.

Format: Hardcover
Price: $12.95
ISBN: 978-1-56145-524-9
Publication Date: 3/1/2010
Page Count: 160
Size: 5″x 7″
Age Range: 7 – 10
Language: English
Format: eBook
ISBN: 978-1-56145-928-5
Age Range: 7 – 10
Language: English

Purchase this eBook through the following vendors:

Barnes & Noble

AR Level: 4.4
F&P: GRL R, Gr 4, Genre HF
Lexile: 650L
Themes: 1800s, Immigration, Social Classes, Steamboat Travel
BISAC 1: JUV041020 Transportation / Boat, Ships & Underwater Craft
BISAC 2: JUV016140 Historical / United States / 19th Century
BISAC 3: JUV014000 JUVENILE FICTION / Girls & Women


“Hart well conveys the sights, smells, and sounds of a nineteenth-century steamboat as well as Emma’s gradual move away from willfulness and muddled thinking. There’s never a dull moment…” ―Booklist

“Especially suited to “American Girl” series fans looking for slightly longer books. Emma is a plucky heroine…readers will enjoy following her as she learns and grows.” ―School Library Journal


Prairie Pasque Children’s Book Award (Nominee) ―SD Library Association, SD Reading Council, SD State Library, SD Elementary School Principals, 2012-2013

You May Also Like

Meet the Author

Alison Hart is the author of more than sixty books for young readers. Hart was a teacher at Blue Ridge Community College and lives in Virginia.

Meet the Illustrator

Paul Bachem has worked for many years as an award-winning freelance illustrator, producing work for most of the major book and magazine publishers. He lives in New York. You can visit his website here.