Tales of pirates' treasure are real
to Killian and his friend Alex, who set off on a hunt for
gold doubloons buried by Captain Kidd, the notorious pirate
who stashed his loot in the Hudson Highlands. Spurred on
by Killian's recurring dream of the ghostly pirate pointing
the way to the gold, the boys desperately try to keep one
step ahead of Cruger, a crazed treasure-hunter whose cave
they discover on haunted Bannerman's Island.
"A wonderful book. I couldn't put it down!" - Jean Craighead
George, author of My Side of the Mountain and Julie
of the Wolves
"Full of suspense, an exciting adventure. What a great way
for kids (and adults) to learn about history!" - Jean
Marzollo, author of I Spy School Days and Slamdunk
"Steeped in pirate lore and Hudson River history, this is
an intriguing look at the effect of greed upon friendship"
this book from Amazon
Details of School Visits
Visits & Book Signings
HUDSON RIVER for the Classroom
Guide print version (word doc)
Study Guide PDF
Teacher's Study Guide for
River: An Adventure from the Mountains to the Sea
The Hudson runs for 315 miles from a tiny pond in the Adirondack
Mountains all the way down through the heart of New York
State to New York City and the sea. My canoe journey
down the entire length of the river is presented in slides
and narration. In preparation for my visit, children
Study the Adirondack and Catskill Parks, their geography,
Study logging in New York State, running logs from Mount
Marcy and the north all the way down to the saw mills in
Glens Falls. What happened to the great log drives?
Study the concept of wilderness and the ecological debate
between developers (building homes along) and ecologists
(preservation of green spaces).
Study the natural process of bogification. Lake Tear
is tiny and becoming tinier as a result of the water turning
to bog and then to land.
Study Mount Marcy as the highest mountain in the state,
above the tree line (discuss the tree line).
Study canoes as vehicles for native Americans and then the
first European explorers to travel our land, the voyageurs,
for instance, Lewis and Clark, etc.
Study the anatomy of rapids (this will appeal to teachers
who run whitewater in their spare time).
Study or take stock of the class's camping and hiking experience,
making camp, putting up tents, cooking, drinking the water?
not the Hudson water! Why not?
Study the history of Adirondack Guides.
Then move into the power dams along the Hudson and discuss
the use of water for electricity. Hydro-electric?
What does it mean? Is it completely safe?
Compare it to nuclear (Indian Point) or the burning
of coal to generate electricity (around Newburgh, Central
Discuss the Champlain and Erie Canals and the history of
settling the west. They come together half way down
the Hudson at Waterford. Discuss the dynamics of
locks. Forty miles of the Hudson form the southern
section of the Champlain canal. Lots of material
here to work on. See Cheryl Harness' "The Amazing
Impossible Erie Canal."
Study the various tribes that lived along the Hudson.
Half way down the river, after 160 miles, suddenly we have
the big cities of Troy and Albany, capital of New York.
And the tides. Discuss the ebb and the flood
tide. The effect of the moon.
Study Henry Hudson's 1609 journey in the Half Moon as far
north as Troy and Albany. From here down to New York
City the river drops only a few feet. This part of
the river, described by native Americans as Water That Flows
Two Ways, forms the longest inland estuary in the world.
Discuss estuaries. Sea life, and the salt line that
shifts with the rains and the droughts.
Commercial fishing is all but dead along the river.
Discuss the PCB travesty, the pollution of the lower river.
Talk about industry that once was so important to the life
of the river. Now the industry is gone, factories
abandoned. Get suggestions on how to renew life of
the river, how to make the river come back into people's
lives. Tourism? New types of cottage industries?
Should private property prevent public access?
Then the Lighthouses. Perfect for exploring ghost
stories and the shipping that has died along with the extinction
of big industries on the lower Hudson. Brick, ice,
gravel, coal. The big industries are no longer.
Yet the river lives. Motorboats on weekends plow
their way around. Not many canoes.
Henry Hudson called the Hudson, the Great River of the Mountains.
Study the Hudson Highlands, that lovely 15-mile stretch
of hills the Delaware Indians called the Endless Mountains.
Painted by the first school of American artists,
Cole and Church, etc. The Hudson River School.
Here we have Breakneck and Storm King Mountains and West
Point at World's End, so called because the sailing ships
couldn't get past the curve in the river and many went down.
Currents and winds here very tricky.
Study the environmental movement and how the Hudson has
gotten cleaner. From the first Earth Day until now.
What a difference Pete Seeger and his sloop Clearwater
have made! Great opportunity to talk about the environmental
movement, its difficulties, its challenges, its rewards.
Discuss the Literature of the Hudson. Washington
Irving, in particular.
Finally, New York City. The Enterprise. The
ruined piers of the Canard Line. The shore of Manhattan
all but forgotten. From Mt. Marcy to the Trade Center.
How different this end of the river is. New
York was made from the bricks of the Hudson River brick
yards. New York was made great by shipping supplies
down the Erie and Champlain canals. New York was
a land of pirates in the late 1600's. New York where
the Hudson flows out to sea.
Also, discuss why we love rivers so much. Always
changing. Their movement, their newness. Explore
a river as metaphor.
I first had the idea of canoeing the Hudson in 1989.
I worked for a year reading about and traveling up and down
the river. During this "research" phase
I interviewed lots of people and got to know a little of
what I'd face in a three-week, 315-mile trek. I kept
many notes on my journey and wrote a first draft of the
book after the long process of selecting the right material.
Knowing what to leave out was the hardest part.
After I came up with a first draft, my editor and I worked
on many other drafts, whittling down the material to only
fifteen pages of text. This took a year. Then
the book was designed with photographs, and I was still
editing. Finally in 1991 the book was shipped to
Hong Kong to be printed. Then it was shipped to bookstores
in March 1992.
Keep a one- or two-day journal of some weekend trip or of
a walk down a street, perhaps with family members, or alone.
Record everything. Sights, sounds, smells,
but especially feelings and interactions with people.
Try to capture the personality of the people you write about.
This exercise might focus on only one person, a person
who in some way helps the reader understand more about the
street, the place.
In class, begin to edit the journal. Throw out anything
that doesn't contribute to the overall effect. Try
to make one good page out of many pages. Begin the
writer's difficult task of selection.
What is adventure? Imagine an adventure you'd like
to take. Begin research for this adventure.
Outline your trip and outline your research (ex. What books
to read? Who to talk to? What can you research
using a computer and a modem?). Make a list of equipment
you'll need. Write a page or two on why this adventure
is so exciting to you and why it might interest other people.
Interview someone for your school newspaper. Either
on tape or with pen and paper, the old-fashioned way.
Also try using a camera to take a snapshot that you can
use when you write about this person later. Capture
the person's character in your description, then let his
or her words do most of the work of creating a "personality."
Research other river books, novels, picture books, nonfiction.
After you've read at least five river books, decide
what river(s) interest you and write an essay telling why.
Make the river or rivers you like come alive on the
page. In other words, imagine from your readings
what it is like to actually live on the river.
What makes the Hudson River unique? Focus on either
the people, the history, or the place. Give lots of
specifics to support your thesis.
If you live near the Hudson or the Connecticut River or
any river or stream, go to that river or stream and describe
it in a new way, as no one has ever done before.
Is the river you see, the same river that someone up or
down river sees? How is your river different from
Guide print version